Cherelle Parker elected Philadelphia’s 100th mayor

The Associated Press called the race for Parker shortly after polls closed Tuesday

By: - November 7, 2023 8:31 pm

Democratic candidate for Philadelphia mayor Cherelle Parker (Photo via Parker campaign)

Democrat Cherelle Parker is the projected winner of the race to become Philadelphia’s 100th mayor, and the first woman to win the post. The Associated Press called the race for Parker at 8:31 p.m. on Tuesday.

Just one hour after the Associated Press called the race for Parker, she took the stage at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 stage to deliver a half-hour address detailing her journey to become Philadelphia’s 100th mayor and vision for the city moving forward. 

“I started off on this campaign trail and I tried to follow the script,” Parker said. “A lot of campaign experts thought that they would tell us the best way that we should walk, talk, and act to win an election and get votes.”

“For those of you who know me, it just didn’t feel right,” Parker said. 

On the campaign trail, Parker talked about being born to a single teenage mother, who passed away when she was 11 years old and being raised by her grandparents, while her grandmother collected welfare and subsidized food to take care of her. 

“So I got on the trail and I began to talk about it out loud,” Parker said while getting choked up with emotion. “I didn’t hide from it, because I wouldn’t allow anybody else to attempt to weaponize my humble beginnings against me.” 

She said her lived experience was closest to the people who are feeling the most pain right now in the city.

Before serving on Philadelphia City Council, Parker represented the 200th District in the state House from 2005-2015, becoming the youngest African-American woman ever elected to Pennsylvania’s House. 

Parker was joined on stage Tuesday night by her ex-husband, Ben Mullins, and her 11-year-old son, who they co-parent. 

“My message to Philadelphians from all walks of life was that if they just give me the opportunity, that I would put to great use everything inside of me … I would put all of it to great use to work with you all to make Philadelphia the safest, cleanest, greenest big city in the nation with economic opportunity for all,” Parker said.

Parker was heavily favored over Republican David Oh to replace term-limited Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney. Philadelphia has not had a Republican mayor since 1952, and registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 7-1.

Parker won the Democratic Party nomination in May, earning 32% of the vote in the heavily contested nine-candidate race. Oh ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

She didn’t reference Republican David Oh during her acceptance speech but said that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who endorsed her just last week, called earlier in the evening to congratulate her. 

“Philadelphia can not be successful without an immense amount of support from the White House and our Congress. We need the support,” Parker said. “Both of them said that they are prepared and they are ready.”

Philadelphia Mayoral candidate Cherelle Parkers poses for a photo with state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), Gov. Josh Shapiro and others on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023 (Capital-Star photo by John Cole).

Parker also referenced being prepared to work alongside Gov. Josh Shapiro, who joined Parker at a voting stop earlier in the day. House Speaker Joanna McClinton, House Majority Appropriations Chair Jordan Harris, Senate Minority Appropriations Chair Vince Hughes, and Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Sharif Street, were all present on stage during her victory speech. 

“She and I’ve worked together for the last two decades,” Shapiro said of Parker, referring to their time in the state House together. “I’ve got really high hopes for her. She’ll be a great executive and I’m excited to work with her.”

Shapiro said he’s already begun some informal conversations with Parker about how they can collaborate, should she be elected mayor, and said they’ll have more formal conversations during her transition about things she specifically wants to accomplish. 

“In general, she ran a campaign on similar platforms to me, how we educate our children, to bring safety to our communities, and grow our economy,” Shapiro said. “And those are issues that I think we’re going to find a lot of common ground on.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who was on stage during Parker’s victory speech, didn’t deliver remarks on Tuesday evening but issued a statement congratulating mayor-elect Parker. 

“Congratulations to mayor-elect Cherelle Parker on this historic milestone in her extraordinary career of public service,” Kenney said in a press release. “I am proud to call Cherelle a friend and a colleague, and I look forward to working with her to ensure a smooth and successful transition that keeps our city’s progress on track.”

“Elections are profound and powerful, and running them is a monumental responsibility and undertaking,” Kenney continued. “I am thankful to the City Commissioners, our public safety partners, and all the workers and volunteers across the city who helped to ensure another safe, free, and fair election in our city.”

Parker closed her address with a call for unity. 

“We need everyone to bring it together,” Parker said. “I love you Philly, we’re going to do this together.”

This story was updated at 11:48 p.m. with additional reporting. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John Cole
John Cole

John Cole is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He's worked for various outlets such as The Northeast Times, PoliticsPA, and PCN. In these previous roles, he covered a wide range of topics from local civic association meetings to races across the commonwealth. He earned a degree in journalism from Temple University.