After 100 election cycles, Philly puts a woman in the mayor’s office

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Nutter said every mayor brings his or her own unique life experience to the job, and expects Parker to do the same.

​​During her victory speech, Parker said her success was due, in part, by maintaining her authenticity and “turning her pain into power.”

“People were yearning for authenticity. They were yearning to hear somebody speak to them like a regular person,” she told the crowd. “They were yearning to do what we learned in the Baptist Church. You all will remember it sometimes when the preacher is speaking, you’ll hear somebody in the congregation say: ‘Make it plain!’”

Parker was born to a single mother who died when she was 11, then raised by her grandmother, who was assisted by food stamps. Parker first came to public attention at age 17 when she won a speech contest and toured churches and recreation centers around the city recounting her disadvantaged upbringing.

Her talent was noticed by longtime councilperson Marian Tasco, who hired her as a teenage intern.

“It seems fitting that the first woman to be elected mayor of Philadelphia would be a woman supported, mentored, and shaped in her youth by two African-American women who themselves broke the political glass ceiling: [former councilperson] Gussie Clark and Marian Tasco,” said Republican political commentator Farah Jimenez.

Jimenez called Parker’s win “historic.”

“It would be a shame if our assessment focused solely on gender,” Jimenez said in an email. “Cherelle’s personal story of struggle and ascendance, talent met with hard work, parenting of a young African American male, and sheer perseverance against the odds is what will most inform her tenure as Philadelphia’s 100th mayor.”

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