As Philadelphia's next mayor, Cherelle Parker says struggling communities would be her top concern (2023)

Cherelle Parker outlined her political goals and hopes for Philadelphia's future Monday morning as she addressed the public for the first time since winning the Democratic mayoral primary last week.

Parker, who will face Republican David Och in November's general election, dressedyour primary victoryas evidence of its focus on communities most in need of better conditions.

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"Our message has spread across the city, but most importantly in the neighborhoods and communities closest to the pain of gun violence, destroyed neighborhoods, struggling schools — and, frankly, a lack of economic opportunity," said Parker, who is set to become Philadelphia's first female mayor. "Now, with our victory, for me, these communities are closer to power."

Before running for mayor, Parker served two terms on the City Council, representing the Ninth Ward in West Philadelphia, and spent a decade as a state representative. His biggest pockets of primary support came in West Philly, Southwest Philly and North Philly — areas hit hard by crime and other intractable problems. parkerfinitenearly 10 percentage points over runner-up Rebecca Rhynhart in a highly contested race.

"We can literally bring hope and pride back to our city," Parker said.

Parker had a busy schedule Monday morning, in part because she was hospitalized on election night with pain from root canal surgery. She met with Gov. Josh Shapiro, also a Democrat, to discuss her vision for the city and lay the groundwork for bipartisan cooperation at the state level.

“I have been a lifelong coalition builder and organizer, and I know the power of getting tangible results at all levels of government directly to the people of our great city,” Parker said. "And I also know how important it is to have a strong relationship with our leaders in Harrisburg."

Parker highlighted the city's sanitation problem, which she said has led to a tolerance for the nickname "Philthadelphia" used to describe the city's streets.

"We have to pick up trash on our sidewalks and in our streets and we have to do that all the time," Parker said. "When you think about sanitation workers and their collections, that's going to have to increase dramatically if we're going to allow Philadelphians to see a trash culture change in our city."

Parker also shared his proposals to tackle violent crime, including adding 300 bike and bicycle patrol offices to increase community policing. During his campaign, Parker also advocated for police to repeat stop-and-frisk interactions.

While at City Hall, Parkerintroduced the 2020 ballot measurewhatauthorized votersprohibit police from using illegal stop-and-frisk tactics that have been linked to a history of racial bias. In his run for mayor, Parker advocated expanding its useTerry steam, which allow police to briefly arrest and search people for weapons if officers have reasonable suspicion that people are armed and likely to be involved in criminal behavior. Terry's stances were found constitutional by the US Supreme Court, butremain controversialbecause of how they were justifiedis usedfrom police departments.

"Terry's stances are what I wholeheartedly embrace as a tool that law enforcement needs to make the public safety of our city their #1 priority," Parker said Monday. "It's a legal tool. A crime has to be committed, or (the police) have to know it's going to be committed, to have fair cause and reasonable suspicion to arrest someone."

Parker acknowledged the "painful" history of stop tactics, particularly in black communities. He said he would never condone using Terry's stops as a means for police to target black residents.

"I've seen what it's like, especially when I've had black men that I adored and cared about stop for no apparent reason other than the fact that they're black," Parker said. "Again, (if) we make it through the general election, there is no way that this kind of behavior will be allowed in the Parker administration. I simply will not tolerate it. But I will also make sure that Terry is stopped and all the other necessary legal tools — and combined with excellent training and zero tolerance for any misuse or abuse of power - are available in our police department."

Parker also addressed his vision for year-round schooling and overhauling day programs, another campaign position that has sparked debate about how realistic those changes are in Philadelphia. longer breaks during the year. Schools would also open earlier and close late each day, with more programming available for students to learn technology and manufacturing skills.

School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Tony B. Watlingtonplans to propose an experimental program for year-round schoolinglater this week as part of a five-year strategic plan. Parker said he supports pilot programs in elementary, middle and high schools to see how it works. She argued that the public debate over her year-round tuition proposal was misinformed.

“The only thing this doesn't mean — which I thought I made clear in the campaign — is that our kids will be sitting at a traditional school desk, in a traditional classroom, from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. instructor." Parker said. "If that's how you interpreted my recommendation that this is something we're exploring and possibly using here in the city of Philadelphia, you've got it all wrong."

Parker said opening schools earlier was meant to help parents.

"These are also economic development issues," Parker said. “Schools open at 7:30 in the morning because parents need jobs, living wages, health care, retirement and security, but, by the way, schools don't open until 9. Take your time here.

Parker said her top priority is honing her various proposals before the general election, which she is favored to win in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans about 7 to 1. A Republican hasn't won a mayoral election since 1947. , when Bernard Samuel was re-elected.

"This is a unifying moment here in our city," Parker said. "I don't care who you voted for. I don't care what part of town you live in, your zip code, what your political philosophy or ideology is. Our democratic process, you know, we're working with it. Now we have the results and it needs to come together all of Philadelphia to move our city forward."

Voter turnout was about 27% in last week's primary. Parker noted that he was higher than the city's last open mayoral primary, but called the lack of political commitment a symptom of desperation.

"Low turnout, to me, translates to apathy, disillusionment, a desperation to believe in government," Parker said.

With the mayorship within reach, Parker said she's only in this role because of the support she's received and the examples she's had before her.

"I didn't get here by myself. I'm not Superwoman," Parker said. “You know, I'm standing on the shoulders of some women who, generations ago, might have been Democratic candidates for mayor if it weren't for their inability to raise the necessary funds to compete against — more often than not — men who had a vastly greater advantage. in terms of fundraising or people being born richer than they were.'


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