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Pictured: City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker
Parker tells AL DÍA she has not doubt her story will resonate with constituents and is willing to reach into communities to prove it. Photo: Jared Piper/PHL Council

No trust fund, no silver spoon: Cherelle Parker says her lived experience is what makes her the people’s candidate

An extensive legislative record and government tenure are just a fraction of her Philly mayoral bid, Parker says.

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Councilwoman Cherelle Parker entered an emerging field of mayoral hopefuls after she tendered her resignation from Philly City Council on Wednesday, Sept. 7 from her seat in local government. The 9th district representative said Philadelphia is at a crossroads, and that she is equipped with the necessary experience to move the city forward. 

“We have so many challenges facing [Philadelphia] (...) People have lost hope in our city. They look at the record levels of violence in our city,” Parker told AL DÍA amid a full schedule of back-to-back press meetings following her resignation from Council. 

“Right now, we need strong leadership, and that leadership has to be willing to make the tough decisions that will be necessary to move Philadelphia forward,” she continued.

The Councilwoman, seemingly unbeknownst to her, is described as politically savvy. Upon learning of the moniker, the Councilwoman responded coyly. “Oh,” Parker said.

She attributes said savviness to nurturing close working relationships with other representatives, understanding what’s important to the district, and finding common ground. 

“In Harrisburg, we had to deliver,” she said, reminiscing about her time in state government, where she served 10 years.

Although Parker now steps into the political limelight, her presence in state and local chambers stems back decades within the government apparatus. Prior to becoming the 9th District’s representative on Council in 2016, Parker spent 10 years in City Hall as Marian Tasco’s aide in 1995 at 17 years old.

An essay about Parker’s life caught Tasco’s attention and led an unconnected, inexperienced teenager into what was then the beginning of a political career. Parker told AL DÍA her background gives her a unique view of Philadelphia voters, who, she says, have lost faith in government efficiency. 

“I know what poverty is because I’ve lived it. I’m so very passionate about closing the gap between the haves and the have-nots because I was a have-not,” said Parker, who became the first in her family to attend college. 

After spending time in local government, Parker went to state government and ran a successful campaign for State House, where she worked on legislation and understanding the affinity between the public and private sectors.

On policy, Parker’s pointed attention to infrastructure guided her legislative agenda, like the Restore, Repair and Renew program, a low-interest loan initiative aimed at helping homeowners conduct home improvements. 

"I’ve been laser-focused on improving home ownership in the city of Philadelphia,” she said on her policy. 

She also noted her work on Basic Systems Home Repair, which provides free assistance for structural home repairs to homeowners who are income eligible. 

“A lot of homeowners in Philadelphia couldn’t get access to the program not because they were rich, but they were a nickel over the income eligibility guidelines,” she said. 

The crossroads are tough decisions 

But Parker may confront a bigger hurdle in her quest to amass the support required for a successful campaign. 

“The crossroads now are that we have so many challenges facing our city (...) People have lost hope in our city, and they look at the record levels of violence, businesses trying to thrive,” Parker remarked. 

“Right now we need strong leadership, and that leadership has to be willing to make the tough decisions that will be necessary to move Philadelphia forward,” she added. 

A self-described “Get it done Democrat,” Parker told AL DÍA she would address the issue of public safety she alluded to and noted she would reach into every branch of government to play a role. She did not confirm whether or not she’d declare a state of emergency to address gun violence in the city. 

Regarding her platform and her overall bid, Parker recognized the position she holds in the race as a Black woman, but refuses to be “put into a box,” as she stated. 

“This will be the 100th mayor, I turn 50 on Friday. This would also be the first time that a woman, and a Black woman, would be elected. But I won’t let anybody put me in a box,” Parker said, adding her current 9th district constituency is highly diverse. 

Her campaign strategy, Parker says, is community outreach. 

“People are going to be shocked and surprised that they’re gonna see a melting pot. And blue-collar strength. I think people are gonna feel that,” she said. 

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