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Pictured: Mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker
Cherelle Parker talked money, politics and everything in between, reportedly going well off script. Photo: AL DÍA News

Cherelle Parker holds dual event to celebrate her 50th birthday and kick off her mayoral campaign

Staff close to the campaign say the celebration expected 600 attendees, all of whom purchased tickets to the event.

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Former 9th District Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, now resigned, held a two-part function on the evening of Friday, Sep 10 — to step into a new decade of her life and officially announce her intentions to pursue a mayoral campaign. The party took place on the second floor of Rivers Casino, with a dominating floor plan dedicated to Parker’s celebration. 

Upon arrival, Parker’s team greeted attendees with surrounding cocktail outposts, a banquet, and photo stations decorated with posters containing images and effects of the former Councilwoman. Inside the event space where Parker would deliver her remarks, tables dressed in orange drapes and balloons filled the room. One station contained the number 50 covered in LED lights, where guests could take pictures in honor of Parker’s birthday.

Also in the main room was a stage for Parker’s speech, followed by New York ‘Queen of Rap’ Roxanne Shanté. Among the guest were some of Philadelphia’s political powerhouses, including Council President Darrell Clarke, former City Controller Alan Berkowitz, and PA House Rep. Ángel Cruz, who recently told AL DÍA of his plans to replace María Quiñones-Sánchez in the 7th district seat. 

Another dozen or so union leaders and city reps could be spotted on the premises as well, although none gave formal endorsements.

Colby McQueen, a Philadelphia resident in Parker’s district, arrived earlier in the night before the ceremony began. 

“I was happy. When I heard that she resigned, I said I’m glad that we got somebody that’s looking out for us,” she said gleefully. “We want somebody that’s gonna get in there and help work for the people and not just for themselves, and thinking about their counterparts out there,” she added. 

McQueen’s comments echo some of the sentiments Parker has maintained throughout her messaging. 

But not all who went were Parker’s constituents. Benita, a West Philadelphia native, knew Parker’s record well and is a staunch supporter of her bid. 

“I think it’s about time we had a Black woman for mayor, and I think she would be a good candidate (...) for our city,” Benita said, also adding her desire for new, local leadership. “I think she would probably do a better job than these men have been doing years and years. So I’m excited (...) the city needs another perspective, another point of view,” she continued. 

Though the mayoral hopeful is acutely aware of the context surrounding her bid for Philadelphia’s 100th mayor, Parker pushes back against what she notes as “being put into a box” and says her campaign is closest to the people overall. 

Parker’s story, in many respects, resonates with her base. She was born to a single teenage mother and raised by her grandparents, who, as Parker recalls, used food stamps due to their low-income status. At 17, Parker became then Councilwoman Marian Tasco’s protégé at an administrative desk where she navigated constituent’s grievances, learning the practice early on. 

Amid a lively DJ set and coordinated dancing, Parker stepped into the stage later than scheduled to deliver her impassioned message, which could be appropriately comparable to a church sermon, written to express the rawest aspects of her comeuppance, no holds barred. 

“You also see White people here, Hispanic people here, Asian people here because I refuse to be put into a Black box,” Parker remarked. “The coalition that we’re going to need to make Philadelphia a safer and a cleaner city (...) will not be achieved by one group of people,” she added of her efforts to achieve citywide support. 

In what felt like a forewarning, Parker addressed her DUI as part of a larger message regarding possible negative coverage, followed by the unusual nature of her candidacy. 

“Some people are getting ready to start showing these pictures. They’re going to show the husbands and the wives, and the grandmothers and the grandfathers, and the dogs, and it ain’t nobody but me, Langston and Max,” referring to her son, Langston Parker, and their pet dog Max. 

And having gone off-script, Parker spoke to her campaign’s fundraiser, urging folks to donate small amounts and support her campaigning efforts. While she refuses to be boxed by her Blackness, Parker’s sharp delivery often leans on her experience to connect to constituents who find themselves far removed from cash-injected bids and said she was sad to hear of these candidates stepping into communities to request donations.

“I’m an English Teacher by profession. I mean to say this, I ain’t got no money to pay ya’ll. But they want to know how I’m going to compete with these millionaires. I can’t do it without ya’ll,” Parker told her supporters. 

While no names were mentioned, Parker honed in on financing leverage of well-funded campaigns. “He can have all the millionaire friends he wants. He ain’t got what’s inside of me.”

Regarding the unexpected remarks, a spokesperson for the campaign told AL DÍA “we admire her authenticity.”

In closing her speech, Parker summoned the full force of the political and labor elite, whose support she’ll be vying for in the coming months. 

During her term, Parker used her platform to add 300 uniformed officers to tackle crime, in a $1 million spend to hire a “more diverse force.” In no specific terms, Parker told AL DÍA she plans to reach into every tool in the government’s toolbox to continue her efforts to reduce crime, a pervasive problem weighing over constituents. 

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