Philadelphia’s 2023 Mayoral Elections take place on November 7th, and while a good portion of the youth in Philadelphia are well-versed in their knowledge of our two candidates, it is extremely important for those who aren’t to start educating themselves now. Among many other reasons, our candidates could each have a substantial influence on the Philadelphia school district if elected as mayor. While Philadelphia's mayor has no direct governing power over schools, the mayor does appoint the nine Board of Education members, who in turn hire the superintendent and also oversee all policy and budgetary decisions made by the district. Unbiased profiles of both candidates are presented with the purpose of providing students an overview of the backgrounds, policies, and plans that both candidates have for Philadelphia and the school district.
Representing the Democratic party, we have Cherelle Parker. Parker was born in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia. In 1990, she was a senior at Parkway High School. She graduated from Lincoln University in 1994, and briefly worked as a high school English teacher in Pleasantville, New Jersey. On May 16, 2023, Parker was declared the winner of the Democratic primary, receiving 32.6% of the vote and defeating her closest opponent by 10 points.
When asked about her top policy priorities in office, she noted that she is “running for Mayor to make Philadelphia a safer, cleaner, and greener city with economic opportunity for everyone.” She also wants to implement the Parker Plan for Education, which includes schools being open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for before and after-school enrichment. At her first public appearance after winning the Democratic nomination for Philadelphia’s next mayor, she explained her stance on the policing practice called stop and frisk. “There is no place for unconstitutional stop and frisk,” she said. “Terry stops are what I wholeheartedly embrace as a tool that law enforcement needs, to make the public safety of our city their number one priority. It is a legal tool.” The phrase “Terry stop” refers to a 1968 court case called Terry vs. Ohio. As written, police officers can stop people they reasonably suspect have committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime, and they can search someone if they believe the person is armed and dangerous. More of her policy plans for the School District include high schools partnering with businesses, city departments, and the Building Trades to provide training for jobs that are available and needed, as well as partnering with colleges and universities to provide preparatory training for students who are college-bound.
Parker will face Republican David Oh in the general election, in which she is heavily favored to win due to the Democratic voter registration advantage in Philadelphia, especially because the last time Philadelphia elected a Republican mayor was in 1947.
Here is what you should know about David Oh. Oh was born in Philadelphia, and spent his youth in Cobbs Creek. He graduated from Dickinson College and Rutgers Law School and became a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association in 1985.
After graduating from law school, Oh worked for three years as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia. He resigned to join the U.S. Army in 1988 and served until 1992 as a 2nd lieutenant in the Army National Guard. He returned to Philadelphia and opened a solo law firm. On February 13, 2023, Oh resigned his seat in the City Council in order to be the sole Republican candidate for the 2023 Philadelphia mayoral election, winning the Philadelphia Republican Party endorsement at his announcement, and winning the nomination unopposed on May 16.
Oh's main message is built on a law and order objective. However, Oh is a supporter of minimal-force policing, and is opposed to stop-and-frisk policies. Oh stated that his main priorities if he was elected mayor were to “make Philadelphia safe, create good jobs, and provide quality schools in every neighborhood.” In regards to Philadelphia's public education system, Oh is seeking to create more space for parental voices in school board selection, increase transparency regarding learning outcomes, and take advantage of unused funding to “improve infrastructure and conduct remedial activities,”.
Another aim for him is regular patrolling of law enforcement personnel with a focus on crime “hot spots” in the city. He states on his website that he will “support the superintendent’s incredible challenge to develop and implement a focused learning program to help students adversely impacted by virtual learning during COVID.” He also strongly believes that parents must have a greater voice in selecting the school board in Philadelphia, and has proposed legislation for a model school board where five of the nine members would be elected by the general population.
While this article doesn’t go into detail about every policy that our candidates have, it gives a brief overview of their proposed actions that could be highly impactful on youth in the School District of Philadelphia. As we get closer and closer to the election, it’s our responsibility as citizens of Philadelphia to stay civically engaged and actively informed of the major happenings in our city. Even if you aren’t allowed to vote just yet, you are highly encouraged to stay up to date in your knowledge of important events affecting your community.