⏰ Estimated read time, 6 minutes.
From November 2022 until present, the 10k Independents Project closely tracked the Philadelphia Mayoral Primary. Our #1 goal was to educate ALL candidates about Independent work as a part of our local economy, while informing voters.
Along the way, we learned a lot about the candidates. After Cherelle Parker won the primary, many people asked us what we knew about her. Team Parker were among the most enthusiastic collaborators during the campaign, so we learned a lot from a mix of research and observations.
Here are 12 things we learned about the woman who won the Democratic nomination for Mayor, Cherelle Parker.
1. Coalition for PA Gun Laws.
Fifteen years ago, the gun violence prevention organization CeaseFirePA found Cherelle Parker to be a champion from her seat as a state representative.
Parker and Cease Fire worked with many PA mayors to introduce a bill that mandated for reporting of lost or stolen guns.
While the bill failed back then, some versions recently passed. Cherelle Parker helped pave the way.
2. Community + Tech for Safety.
In her Philadelphia Neighborhood Safety Plan and Community Policing Plan, Parker calls for police officers to return to making rounds on commercial corridors. The aim will be to provide a regular presence and establish an ongoing relationship between police, businesses, and neighborhood residents.
This plan also calls for use of data & technology to meet violence prevention and prosecution goals, along with upgrades to police forensics. A user-friendly website will transparently track crimes, arrests, and prosecutions, while also informing about witness and victim support services.
3. Lifting Local Black Media.
Cherelle Parker is intentional about engaging Black media outlets and professionals, both during the campaign and immediately upon her win.
Parker gave her first post-primary interview to WURD radio. She also ignored the doctor’s orders (again) to laud and encourage the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.
At her first press conference, she specifically asked if the Black-owned Philadelphia Tribune was present.
4. Champion for Small Business.
In 2017, Parker launched a free and successful entrepreneurship program called Power Up Your Business in collaboration with the Community College of Philadelphia.
Since, this neighborhood-based program has become the top feeder to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses program, which requires businesses to be a minimum of 3 years old to participate.
You can hear her deep enthusiasm about the program in our “10K Reacts” Video with Cherelle Parker.
5. The Steady Rise.
In every role she has held since high school, Parker earned the respect of her peers and rose to the top.
From intern to Council staffer; from State Representative to leader of the whole Philadelphia Delegation; First as a Councilwoman, then Council Majority Leader. The pattern is consistent.
According to data analyzed by the Inquirer, Cherelle’s voters showed up most enthusiastically in zip codes where she has served and delivered results over years.
6. Heart for the Arts.
Parker says her earliest memory of the arts is imitating the Jackson 5 with other neighborhood kids.
She grew to love Black literature because it helped her escape from the realities of painful deaths and heal grief.
In high school, she won a citywide oratory contest and later became an English teacher. She named her son Langston, and her favorite Philly artist is Jill Scott. She identifies her voice as her musical instrument of choice.
You may have also seen her dance moves at Woody’s on GOTV Weekend.
7. Helping Homeowners.
Parker was the architect and champion of the successful Restore, Repair, Renew program. The program enables eligible homeowners to access low-interest loans from $2,500 to $50k.
Loans can be used for health, safety, weatherization, accessibility, and quality-of-life home improvements. Parker’s program is now replicated statewide in the Whole-Home Repairs program.
Homeownership is one of the two most reliable ways to build generational wealth. The other is owning a business.
8. Team Parker is Dedicated
Cherelle Parker has inspired great people to serve, including many who eagerly return to work alongside her.For example, Parker’s Campaign Manager Sinceré Harris left a position in the Biden White House to make history with her longtime friend.
City Council policy lead Rachel Meadows shared a detailed Twitter thread about Parker’s policy success, strategies, and collaborative processes. Senior Advisor Aren Platt brings experience from the c-suite, politics, and policy to everything Cherelle does, as well as a long friendship.
A Thread about the @PeopleforParker that I know, with a special focus on her policy priorities and some of what she got done as a Councilperson. I am sharing this with up-close knowledge, having worked for her for 6.5 years (from May 2016 til she resigned in September 2022).— Rachel Meadows (@rachelmeadows) May 19, 2023
9. State Funding for Education.
In 2012, Cherelle Parker secured $148 million from a Republican Governor and legislature. These funds stopped the wave of school closures during the Great Recession.
She spent significant political capital, but some GOP colleagues became friends. This led to more success with school funding and other across-the-aisle collaborations.
10. Year-round Learning.
Parker plans to help children recover from pandemic learning loss with increased available school hours, and more small breaks spread throughout the year instead of a long summer break, to increase learning retention and reduce teacher burnout
This plan calls for combining current funds with strategic partnerships powered by after-school programs, apprenticeship programs, and local colleges.
Parker’s vision also seems aligned with Superintendent Watlington Sr’s newly released 5-Year strategy.
11. Parker’s Process is Collaborative.
The Parker process is one of a practiced coalition builder.
She works hard to to engage with affected parties to listen, learn and adjust. She works with the curiosity to question assumptions and learn before legislation is introduced or pilots begin.
Parker also generously shares the credit, strengthening relationships needed for future successes.
12. Good Vibes with Harrisburg.
From the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 20, 2023:
“[Parker] knows Harrisburg,” said Sen. Vince Hughes (D., Philadelphia). “She understands how it works, she understands the bureaucracy, she understands the players, and she understands the plays. She gets it, and there is no translation necessary.”
Parker also built a strong friendship with Gov. Josh Shapiro over nearly 20 years. Governor Shapiro was sincere when he said that he is proud of her win and believes the relationship between the city and the Commonwealth will be strong than ever.
- CeaseFire PA https://www.ceasefirepa.org/about-us/accomplishments/
- Pa House Passes Two Gun Reforms https://www.inquirer.com/politics/pennsylvania/gun-control-reform-pennsylvania-house-democrats-senate-20230522.html
- Parker’s Public Safety Plan, Spring 2022 http://phlcouncil.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Cherelle-Parker-Neighborhood-Safety-and-Community-Policing-3-30-2022.pdf. cite multiple pages p.4, 5, 9, 12, 14
- Power Up Your Business, phone interview between Director and 10K Project, March 23,2023. https://www.ccp.edu/workforce-development-and-economic-innovation/small-business-resources/power-your-business
- Rachel Meadows Twitter Thread https://twitter.com/rachelmeadows/status/1659544297832607745
- Philadelphia mayor candidates hit debate stage at the Kimmel Center https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/philly-mayoral-election-2023/mayoral-forum-focuses-on-arts-and-culture-in-philadelphia/3536915/
- Restore, Repair, Renew https://phdcphila.org/residents-and-landlords/home-repair-and-improvements/restore-repair-renew/
- Whole Home Repair Program https://dced.pa.gov/programs/covid-19-arpa-whole-home-repairs-program/
- State Education Funding https://www.inquirer.com/news/cherelle-parker-decade-harrisburg-could-benefit-philadelphia-20230520.html
- Year Round Learning https://www.inquirer.com/news/cherelle-parker-policies-education-grover-washington-philadelphia-mayor-race-20230522.html, https://www.cherelleparker.com/253-2/
- Superintendent 5 year plan https://www.phillytrib.com/news/local_news/philadelphia-superintendent-unveils-5-year-strategic-plan/article_b947f771-0434-5d79-8719-4a7771f9e8a8.html
- Parker Knows Harrisburg https://www.inquirer.com/news/cherelle-parker-decade-harrisburg-could-benefit-philadelphia-20230520.html