After recovering from dental surgery, Cherelle Parker delivers first speech since winning the Democratic primary
Parker’s nomination as the Democratic pick was a historic milestone in Philadelphia politics.
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Cherelle Parker emerged from the shadows on Monday, May 22, six days after she made electoral history by winning the Philadelphia Democratic mayoral primary and dedicating the last week to recovering from dental surgery.
Tones of unity and coalition-building were some that Parker hit strongly during the day’s remarks, touting herself as a longtime coalition-builder and organizer and pledging to remain genuine after securing a strong position ahead of the general election.
Parker, who will often refer to herself in the third person, said that in doing so, she wouldn’t strive to be agreeable among supporters and voters who otherwise voted against her.
“I'm not going to be a candidate who's concerned about being politically correct. I'm always going to give you my authentic self no matter how much you paint some people even when I speak about myself as a third party,” she said.
“Right now, this is the unifying moment here in our city. I don't care who you voted for. I don't care what section of the city, you live in, your zip code, or your political ideology,” Parker continued.
Since winning the Democratic primary last week, Parker is well poised to bring the support gathered throughout the campaign trail — one she faced with painful dental issues — to November, provided that her contender, Republican David Oh, doesn’t make large inroads in the coming months.
A criticism she faces is whether this election’s turnout, low compared to the total of registered voters in Philly, was representative of an electorate that looks forward to a Parker administration.
She told the media's top brass in her first public appearance that she didn’t expect every stakeholder to agree with her, but that she would be open to differences while she lays out a plan for the general election in November.
“No one will ever be able to say that Cherelle Parker did not hear them, even when we agree to disagree. And I don't care about who you are,” she said.
A meeting with Governor Shapiro
Before stepping to the square to address reporters, Parker sat in a meeting with PA Governor Josh Shapiro, the first known since last Tuesday. Parker affirmed that the meeting was important, since many of the battles she’ll face — on things like public safety and schools — will most likely interact with the State Legislature in Harrisburg.
“Today, leading with our chief executive here at the Commonwealth, it was no coincidence. It was very intentional, that he'd be the first executive that I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with,” Parker said.
“We talked about ways to find bipartisan support to fund some of our biggest initiatives that include public safety, I mentioned to the governor that, God's will, as you all know, I will not take my foot off the gas, we'd have a general election to get through in November,” she continued.
Of the limited information offered during Monday’s proceedings, Parker reiterated her campaign’s commitment to bringing the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) “back to its full complement,” a promise made frequently in the wild.
Parker additionally said public schools were discussed between the two, following a historic Commonwealth Court decision, which revealed great disparities in funding between lower and higher income districts, resulting in deteriorating infrastructure and waning basics, like teacher shortages and asbestos.
But in the realm of ambitious plans, Parker aims to open schools year-round and restore a regular schedule for students of public schools.
Though the campaign is yet to release a schedule as they prepare to wind down operations before picking up steam again, Parker noted plans to meet with stakeholders to flesh out alliances.
“I can't do all of this alone, I will need staff to actually carry the organization of the meetings with the stakeholders of claims that we have to put together. So we're working with some of the best and brightest lawyers in the city,” Parker said.
The campaign also said information would be forthcoming more frequently.
“You'll be hearing from me very soon, with hopefully what will be the formal structure that we put together, but we've been on that for a little bit.”
Dealing with health issues
Unbeknownst to voters and media covering the campaign trail, Parker dealt with health issues related to a need for surgery since February, she told the gaggle of reporters Monday.
Against the advice of her doctor, Parker said, she kept the city-wide footwork active up until election night, at which point she retreated to recover from a root canal procedure, according to Parker’s speech.
“I appreciate you,” Parker told her doctor. “But there is no way that I can stop right now. In the midst of this campaign. We have multiple forums. We have multiple debates. And quite frankly, we were very focused on crisscrossing the city.”
In the months leading to election night, Parker survived growing dental pains on antibiotics, the medication that held her over as she skirted surgery.