'We did it': Cherelle Parker gives first speech after securing Democratic nomination for Philly mayor
PHILADELPHIA - Cherelle Parker, the Democratic nominee in the race for Philadelphia mayor, held her first press conference Monday, nearly a week after a health issue prevented her from speaking on election night.
"I am so happy to be here," Parker announced as she began her first speech after winning the primary election. "I am proud to stand here as the Democratic nominee for the city of Philadelphia."
She went on to thank everyone who supported her campaign, and everyone she was "not able to celebrate with" on Election Night.
"I have one thing to say: we did it, we did it together," she said.
Parker, 50, was unable to attend her own victory celebration last Tuesday as she dealt with a dental emergency at the University of Pennsylvania, spending the rest of the week resting, recovering, holding some meetings with staff.
She addressed the emergency during Monday's press conference, explaining that she underwent surgery the Friday before Election Day for a fractured root canal from 25 years ago.
Against her dentist's wishes, the nominee says she kept a full schedule without "giving herself time to heal." That all came to a head on Election Night, when Parker says she had to stop, "My body said, you will stop."
Parker says she is "nearly back at 100%" as she continues her campaign for mayor, which included a recent meeting with Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.
The two lawmakers met to discuss bipartisan support for public safety, city clean-up, economic opportunity and public education as Parker heads into the final leg of the mayoral race.
Parker’s primary win likely set her up to become the city’s 100th mayor and the first woman to serve in the role.
Parker, 50, served for 10 years as a state representative for northwest Philadelphia before her election to the city council in 2015. She has managed to assert herself as a leader whose government experience would allow her to address gaping problems with public safety and quality of life in the nation’s sixth-largest city.
She will go up against Republican David Oh in the Nov. 7 general election.
Her primary win was a disappointment to progressives who rallied around Helen Gym, who was backed by Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Parker emerged from a crowded field of five front-runner Democratic candidates vying to replace Democrat Jim Kenney, who is term-limited. She beat out other former city council members who resigned from their seats to throw their hats in the ring; a state representative; a former city controller and a political outsider businessman.
The Philadelphia race serves as the latest barometer of how residents of some of the nation’s largest cities hope to emerge from the pandemic, which heightened concerns about crime, poverty and inequality. The results have sometimes been tumultuous in other parts of the country, leading to the defeat of the incumbent mayor of Chicago in February and the ouster of San Francisco’s district attorney last year.
Parker pledged to "stop the sense of lawlessness that is plaguing our city" by putting hundreds more officers on the street to engage in community policing. Parker pushed for officers to use every legal tool, including stopping someone when they have "just cause and reasonable suspicion."
She received support from members of the Philadelphia delegation in the House, as well as members of Congress. She was also backed by labor unions and a number of wards in the city, and Kenney said he had cast his ballot for her.