Cherelle Parker is a former state lawmaker and City Council member who was recently inaugurated as the first female mayor in Philadelphia history, becoming the city’s 100th mayor.
She was sworn in on a Bible held by her 11-year-old son, Langston Mullins. She formally took the oath of office in a packed concert hall at the Met Philadelphia on Tuesday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In a speech shortly after her inauguration, she thanked the city “for believing in me and my vision for the future of our city.”
“There will no longer be a tale of two cities in Philadelphia,” Parker said. “We are going to close the gap between the haves and the have-nots. We are going to put people on a path to self-sufficiency.”
According to the Inquirer, the 51-year-old West Oak Lane native overcame a childhood marked by tragedy to build her political image around uplifting the middle class. Born to a single teenage mother and raised by her grandparents, Parker attended Philadelphia public schools and was the first in her family to attend college.
“By every statistic imaginable, I am not supposed to be standing here today,” Parker told supporters during her address. “I, Cherelle Parker, was a child who most people thought would never succeed. And they almost did have me thinking the same thing.”
In her speech, she also pledged to make Philadelphia the “safest, cleanest, greenest city in America, with economic opportunity for all.” She further pledged to eliminate barriers to city jobs like college degree requirements.
“This opportunity to deliver in a meaningful way for the city of Philadelphia – not just for the next four years, but the work we do now – it should be a foundation for the future. I’m not talking about incremental change. I’m talking about bold transformative steps, that when people walk outside of their houses, they can touch, see and feel the results of our labor. If they don’t see it, it’s on us,” said Parker.
She also promised “a data-driven and research-based approach” to law enforcement and public health. What is more, she is committed to addressing issues that are most pertinent in the city, including keeping schools open and creating more affordable housing.