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Elections / Philadelphia

What do we know about Democratic mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker’s stances on tech and business issues?

From supporting Black and brown entrepreneurs to using technology to address crime and violence, here's what she's indicated could be policy focus areas.

Voting. (Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

This story is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others. To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit everyvoice-everyvote.org. Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.

Philadelphia’s 100th mayor could be the first Black woman to hold the position.

Cherelle Parker won the Democratic primary election last night, beating eight other candidates for the mayoral nomination, according to preliminary election results.

Parker is a Philadelphia native who attended Philadelphia public schools and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University and master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Her experience in government includes 10 years as a state representative in Harrisburg and nearly seven years as the councilperson representing Philadelphia’s 9th District.

But what do we know about her positions related to technology and business? Parker has advocated for raising the minimum wage to $17.53 per hour, doubling the number of diverse and small businesses in the city, and providing free business training to support entrepreneurs.

Parker did not respond to Technical.ly’s mayoral candidate survey, but she attended WURD Radio’s Inclusion, Innovation and Philadelphia’s Future mayoral forum last week. Here are some of her tech and business related stances based on that event.

Supporting entrepreneurs

Parker said that Black- and brown-owned small businesses need patient capital to scale up, citing her support for the Innovate Capital Growth Fund from the Enterprise Center, which provides support to minority and female entrepreneurs, as one resource. She said the City would use “local government funds to leverage private sector philanthropic dollars along with state dollars to support the Innovate Capital Fund.”

Parker said she would have a deputy mayor for minority business growth and provide resources for available capital to attract and and retain minority business owners. She said it is important for entrepreneurs to know that they can come to Philadelphia and someone will make an investment in them, especially when trying to get entrepreneurs to stay in the region.

“If your business is not passed down through generational wealth, and you go and you take on debt as a form of a loan to try to grow your business, you can’t focus on innovation,” she said. “So you do need private equity. You need hedge fund folks to invest in you but to not try to take 51% of ownership of your business make the investment but allow you to keep ownership.”

In the realm of retaining talent, Parker said the School District of Philadelphia and the Community College of Philadelphia should prepare students for growing industries, specifically using life sciences and biotech as an example. She cited programs run through the Wistar Institute that prepare students and young people to land good paying jobs as lab technicians as an example of ways the City can prepare residents for jobs.

How would tech fit into Parker’s administration?

When asked what she thought about SEPTA’s plan to replace Key Cards with an app, she responded saying that some people don’t have access to smartphones or technology, and it takes intergovernmental cooperation to ensure those people have access.

Parker said she would like City government to be transparent with residents. She said tech tools will help create transparency around different city departments and the work they do. However, she said the City also has to prioritize cybersecurity.

When using technology to address crime and violence, she said, she would introduce the comprehensive neighborhood safety and community policing plan, which addresses prevention, intervention and enforcement.

“In that plan, it does include an added value of us being smart when it comes to technology and supporting forensics in the labs,” she said. “It does talk about using the technology to not just identify shooters, but what about getting fingerprints using modern technology for that and so ensuring that we make sure that we protect Philadelphians from being discriminated against in every way possible, every tool that we intend on using.”

Keeping with the theme of transparency, Parker said the City should have open communication with the public about this plan and the tools it uses.

For example, if the City uses surveillance cameras in neighborhoods, it has to have a standard operating procedure for how they are used and monitored.

“I am unapologetic about ensuring that our public spaces, our commercial corridors, our our rec centers, and our parks and our libraries, that when we have cameras there, they should be working and they should be monitored, because we’re promoting the use of them from a perspective of public safety, and we should communicate that to the public,” she said.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: City of Philadelphia
Series: Every Voice, Every Vote

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