Jan 3, 2024 - News

Mayor Parker pledges to restore "lawfulness" to Philly

Illustration of Philadelphia City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: BasSlabbers/Getty Images

Cherelle Parker was sworn in as Philadelphia's 100th mayor Tuesday, pledging to restore "lawfulness" to a city dealing with a siege of gun violence.

Why it matters: Parker, a Democrat and the first Black woman elected mayor in the city's 342-year history, was inaugurated during a packed ceremony at The Met.

Driving the news: She stood alongside her son, Langston, as Marcia Fudge, the U.S. secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, administered the oath.

  • Parker described her rise to power as "surreal" afterward, recalling being born to a single mother who died when Parker was a teenager.
  • She was raised by her grandparents, who she says struggled to ensure she had what she needed to succeed.

What they're saying: "I did not get to this stage by myself," said Parker, a former state lawmaker and city council member who leveraged a tough-on-crime platform to cut through a crowded Democratic primary. "There's a block party going on in heaven right now."

Of note: Parker technically took the oath of office a day before the official inauguration to avoid any interruption in power, as the city charter requires the mayor be sworn in on the first Monday in January after being elected, per WHYY.

The big picture: Parker looks to work with new council president Kenyatta Johnson, who was unanimously elected by his colleagues.

  • Johnson acknowledged during a speech Tuesday that his unlikely path to the city's second-most powerful position sounded like something "out of a Hollywood script."

Flashback: Fourteen months ago, he and his wife, Dawn Chavous, were acquitted of federal bribery charges after an initial trial ended with a hung jury.

  • Johnson thanked supporters and the "12 men and women" on the jury who "saw through the falsehoods" of the prosecution's case.
  • "They knew our heart. They knew our innocence," he said, adding residents can expect a "new era" in city government.

Zoom in: During an hourlong speech, Parker outlined a 100-day action plan that she hopes will be the beginning of Philly's transformation from the poorest big city in America into one of the country's "safest, cleanest, greenest" destinations.

  • Parker signed a trio of executive orders later in the day, including one declaring a public safety emergency. Former Mayor Jim Kenney resisted doing so, saying he didn't believe it'd solve the city's crime issue.

Context: Parker has embraced using stop and frisk, hiring more police officers and suggested possibly bringing in the National Guard to clean up Kensington's open-air drug markets.

  • Some of those tactics have been panned by critics – whom she called "articulators of problems" – as lacking compassion.

Yes, but: Parker countered that the city must focus on "quality of life" crimes to ensure residents feel safe.

  • "We are going to expeditiously get every available resource into the neighborhoods struggling from the scourges of crime, gun violence, drugs and addiction," she said.

Her other goals include a top-to-bottom review of properties in the city's land bank, adding 30,000 new housing units as the city seeks to address an affordable housing crisis, plus:

  • Establishing a "PHL Open for Business" initiative that'll streamline licensing and permitting requirements.
  • And implementing year-round schooling, her most frequent campaign pledge. A working group will be tasked with coming up with a comprehensive plan for how to achieve that, she said.

The bottom line: "I'm not Superwoman," Parker said. "I can't do this alone. We need each and every one of you to be engaged."

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