AL DÍA proposes Town Hall with Mayoral Candidates
The three-part series proposal would see the two candidates speak about how they will serve their constituencies as the city’s 100th mayor.
Regardless of who wins the 2023 election for Philadelphia’s 100th mayor, history is sure to be made.
On the Democratic side, you have Cherelle Parker. If she wins the nomination, she will become the first woman to become mayor of Philadelphia.
On the Republican side, you have David Oh. If he wins the nomination, he’d become the first Asian American to become the city’s mayor. A victory for Oh would also make him the city’s first Republican mayor since Bernard Samuel was last elected in 1947.
Simply put, a lot is at stake as the mayoral race inches closer and closer.
With Election Day just over 3 ½ months away, AL DÍA is working diligently to provide a platform for each candidate to speak directly to and about the very people who hold the keys to make one of them the city’s 100th mayor.
A Long-time Political Presence
Cherelle Parker is a native of Northwest Philadelphia and was raised by her grandparents, having no father in the picture and losing her mother at a young age.
Growing up, her grandparents saw something in her, influenced by her voice as a potential speaker. That belief is heavily responsible for her start in politics.
An oratorical competition led Parker to meeting City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, who would later become a mentor for her and hire her as an intern.
After about a decade working for Councilwoman Tasco in various capacities, Parker moved to Harrisburg to represent the 200th legislative district at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
She’d spent a decade in that role, as well, half of which were spent as chair of the Philadelphia delegation. In the role, she championed several pieces of legislation, including the Philadelphia Tax Package to collect delinquent property taxes, and redirecting funding toward the tax relief program, LOOP.
In 2015, Parker first ran for Philadelphia City Council, the very seat her mentor Tasco vacated upon retiring. She’d get re-elected to a second term in 2019.
Last September, Parker took a leap in resigning from City Council to announce her candidacy for Mayor of Philadelphia. During the primaries in May, she received 32.6% of the vote, beating out other former City Councilmembers Helen Gym and Allan Domb, as well as candidates Rebecca Rhynhart and Jeff Brown.
After her victory, Parker spoke on togetherness.
“It’s been a long road, and to see the tireless work of my campaign team, supporters, and family pay off is humbling. I’m looking forward to November and bringing our city together as its 100th mayor,” she wrote in a statement.
During her first public speech after winning the primary, Parker highlighted that her approach heading into Election Day will be the same approach she’s used throughout her political career.
“I'm not going to be a candidate who's concerned about being politically correct. I'm always going to give you my authentic self no matter how much you paint some people even when I speak about myself as a third party,” she said.
A Non-Linear Path in Politics
David Oh has lived on the same block of Southwest Philadelphia for just about his entire life.
He’d go to law school, become an attorney, work as an Assistant District Attorney, and join the U.S. Army before running for office.
Oh had two unsuccessful Philadelphia City Council campaigns in 2003 and 2007, respectively, before a successful bid in 2011 as an At-Large City Council member.
His election victory made him the first Asian American City Councilman in Philadelphia history.
Among his notable accomplishments as a Councilmember include supporting the City’s creative arts economy and creating a veteran’s tax credit.
After three re-elections, Oh resigned from City Council in February 2023 to run for Mayor of Philadelphia.
He ran unopposed during the primaries as the only Republican candidate to announce his mayoral bid.
After the primaries, Oh expressed the importance of ensuring what needs to be at the forefront of the mayoral race.
“This election for the next Mayor of Philadelphia is not about the identity of the candidates but rather the hope of the people,” he said.
While it’s been more than 70 years since a Republican candidate has been elected as Philadelphia’s mayor, that’s not a reality that concerns Oh.
He has made it clear that while he may have been put at a disadvantage in the lead up to the primaries, due to a lack of invites to televised debates, he is running on the back of his track record.
Lead up to Election Day
This mayoral election, like any other election, is about the people.
When the people go to polls on November 7 — or submit their mail-in ballots prior to October 31 — it will be important that every civically engaged voter knows who the candidate they are voting for.
That is the very goal of the series of Town Hall events AL DÍA is looking to host over the next month.
Both Parker and Oh will be given the platform to discuss their campaign and how they plan to address the future of the city.
Whether it’s gun violence, the opioid crisis, or taxes on small businesses, Philadelphia is plush with challenges.
As part of her campaign, Parker has laid out four main priorities: safety, education, cleaning, and economic opportunity.
Among her goals in addressing those four priorities include expanding on the PHL Taking Care of Business initiative she launched to help make the city cleaner; offer more pathways for people to make a living wage and gain workforce-level skills; increasing funding for schools; and hiring more officers across all neighborhoods of the city.
Oh has five main priorities included as part of his platform: public safety & crime; education reform; jobs & economic prosperity; government that serves the people; and fiscal responsibility & tax reform.
He has laid out a number of ways in which he plans to address the aforementioned issues. They include ensuring that the law is enforced, improving policing, create more jobs, make public services more accessible, and building a more optimal tax structure.
As current mayor Jim Kenney winds down his final months in office, Parker or Oh will be tasked with taking the torch and moving the city forward.
It will be a continuation of what Kenney did as he grabbed the reins from former Mayor Michael Nutter; as Nutter did when he grabbed the reins from former Mayor John Street before him; as Street did when he grabbed the reins from former Mayor Ed Rendell; and as Rendell did when he grabbed the reins from former Mayor Wilson Goode.
The Office of the Mayor is an important one to hold, and it will be historic once Oh or Parker officially sits in that office in January 2024.
During a previous interview with AL DÍA, Oh expressed the value of that office.
“If we have a good mayor, we have a good city,” he said.