Democrat Cherelle Parker to become Philadelphia's 100th mayor

Parker will become the city's first woman to hold the position of mayor.

Democrat Cherelle Parker to become Philadelphia's 100th mayor
Democrat Cherelle Parker to become Philadelphia's 100th mayor

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Cherelle Parker, a Democrat who has held office at the state and local level after first becoming involved in politics as a teenager, was elected Tuesday as Philadelphia's 100th mayor, making history as the first woman to hold the post.

Full results from the 2023 election in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Parker, 51, emerged from a crowded field of Democrats in the May primary and was heavily favored over Republican David Oh in the city, which is considered a Democratic stronghold. She will replace Democrat Jim Kenney, who was ineligible for reelection due to term limits.

She campaigned on a promise to make Philadelphia the "safest, cleanest, greenest big city in the nation that will provide access to economic opportunity for all."

Democratic mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker takes the stage during an election night party in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

To the tune of "Ladies First," an emotional Parker appeared and addressed supporters at her election night watch party at the Sheet Metal Workers hall on South Columbus Boulevard, repeating campaign promises to address struggles with crime, education, jobs and poverty. The Mount Airy native, who was raised by her grandparents, vowed to work with Philadelphia's state legislative delegation and city council to move the city forward.

"Who is Cherelle Parker going to be? A get-it-done Philadelphian. A get-it-done mayor who won't ever forget her deep roots," she said. "I'm Philly-born, I'm Philly-bred and I'll be Philadelphian 'til I'm dead."

Having served for 10 years as a state representative for Northwest Philadelphia before her election to the city council in 2015, she touted herself on the campaign trail as a leader whose government experience would allow her to address gaping problems in the city.

"We can't solve these problems alone," she said previously. "We need federal, state and local government, along with the private sector and philanthropic communities, to help us address the public health and safety."

Parker's moderate message resonated with voters who are increasingly worried about public safety, as well as quality-of-life issues, from faulty streetlights, to potholes, to trash collection. She also promised a well-trained police force that is engaged with the community, along with mental health and behavioral support. She has been elected at a time when the city is seeking a new police commissioner, which we could hear an announcement on in a matter of weeks.

"You heard me talking about making public health and safety our number one priority. Listen, I don't apologize about that. We are going to use every legal tool that is in the toolbook to make this city safe," Parker said.

Supporters at the watch party hugged in celebration. Among them was Carolyn Mosley, 57, who said her main concerns going into the election were crime and taxes.

After meeting Parker at a church event earlier this year, she was "100% sold," she said: "I believe that she can effectively change Philadelphia."

"Her story reminds me of my story," said Mosley, who is also a Black woman. "And I can see girls can emulate her."

David Oh, an attorney and at-large city council member, aimed to become the city's first Asian American mayor. He ran on lowering Philadelphia's crime rate, including hiring a surge of police officers and addressing drug use.

No Republican has won the mayoral race in Philadelphia for more than 70 years. He said it's important for everyone now to come behind Parker.

"I think it's a challenge -- whether I won or she won -- to earn the credibility that comes with being elected," Oh said.

Oh conceded to Parker just before 11 p.m.

"We have come to the end of this journey. The voters have spoken and Cherelle Parker is the 100th mayor of Philadelphia, so I congratulate her and I wish her well. It is her responsibility now, and we will all support her to make her the most successful mayor that this city has seen because that is what's in the public interest," he said.

Democratic mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker, center, speaks during an election night party in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.