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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Cherelle Parker, a Democrat, elected mayor of Philadelphia

Cherelle Parker speaks to supporters on Tuesday night after being elected mayor.

By David W. Chen

Cherelle Parker, a longtime state and local elected official who promised Philadelphia residents that she would aggressively tackle the city’s crime woes, was elected mayor Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, making her the first woman voted into the city’s highest office.

Viewed as more moderate than the other candidates in the Democratic primary in May, Parker, 51, pledged to hire hundreds more police officers and bring back what she called “constitutional” stop-and-frisk tactics. With registered Democrats vastly outnumbering Republicans in the city — the nation’s sixth most populous, with 1.6 million residents — Parker’s primary win gave her a significant advantage over the Republican nominee, David Oh, a former colleague of hers on the City Council.

No Republican has been elected mayor in Philadelphia since 1947, and recent nominees have typically received less than 20% of the vote.

Parker, a lifelong Philadelphian, will be the city’s 100th mayor. She is a former English teacher, state legislator and member of the City Council. In talking about how to address the city’s high levels of illegal drug use and violent crime, she has been open to the idea of asking the National Guard to help tackle the open-air drug market in the Kensington neighborhood. More than 500 people were killed in each of the past two years in Philadelphia, the highest number on record, though homicides, shootings and violent crimes have fallen this year.

Two-thirds of residents say the city is going in the wrong direction. And in her victory speech, Parker indicated she could identify with the struggles many Philadelphians face, emphasizing her background as the Black daughter of a single teenage mother who grew up on welfare benefits while being raised by her grandparents.

“My real life lived experience was closest to the people who are feeling the most pain right now in our city,” she said.

Parker’s emphasis on public safety resonated with voters such as Victor Gonzalez, 58, and his wife, Haydee Gonzalez, 59, who cast their ballots in the West Kensington neighborhood.

“I’m hoping that she will bring back a couple of things that were taken off the table like stop-and-frisk,” Gonzalez said. “You got a lot of young people out there walking with guns and police can’t stop them.”

Parker will succeed Mayor Jim Kenney, who was limited to two terms in office. He has become increasingly unpopular, and has been criticized for being less engaged and less visible than he was when he first took office.

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