Philly has a new mayor, and though the outcome of the race was pretty much set since she won the primary, Cherelle Parker can now officially take the title. The 51-year-old Democrat, who has been a teacher, a state representative and a City Councilwoman, was elected Tuesday night in a landslide victory over Republican candidate David Oh.
Parker enjoyed a strong swell of support in the city, which has been challenged by gun violence and a post-pandemic downturn in workers heading to Center City and riding on the city’s SEPTA transit system. Philadelphia, which is 43% African American, is consistently referred to as the nation’s poorest big city, and its problems are exacerbated by racism, an underfunded education system, and an intractable crime problem.
The city’s first Black female police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, departed for a new job at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey before Parker was elected. Her three years in the job which she began in 2020 were marred by a record number of homicides in 2021 and a botched police response to Black Lives Matter protests.
The interim police commissioner is John Stanford, a longtime Philadelphia police officer who’s risen through the ranks. Stanford is a candidate for the permanent job, which Parker says will be one of the first announcements she will make.
Parker has advocated for the return of ‘constitutional’ stop and frisk tactics to stem the murders, has floated the idea of bringing in The National Guard to shut down the open-air drug market in the Kensington section of the city, and says she will hire more police officers, though the department is struggling with recruitment.
“We have to have a sense of order in our city,” she said in her victory speech. “While we do that let’s understand this, zero tolerance for any misuse of authority by our law enforcement authorities.”
She ran on a “safer, greener, cleaner” Philadephia and says she plans to prioritize economic opportunity for all.
As she had the support of the building trades and her transition team includes Ryan Boyer, the first Black business manager of the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council, Parker is likely to support the controversial Chinatown 76ers Place project, the downtown arena the Philadelphia 76ers want to build despite strong community opposition.
A single mother of one son, Langston Mullins, Parker is divorced.
Parker becomes one of eight Black female mayors in the top 100 largest cities in America, joining San Francisco’s London Breed, New Orleans’ LeToya Cantrell, Washington D.C.’s Muriel Bowser, Charlotte’s Vi Lyles (now on her fourth term) Karen Bass in Los Angeles and Tishaura Jones in St. Louis.
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