Philly Grocer tycoon Jeff Brown officially launches 2023 bid for Mayor
Brown kicked off his campaign at the First District Plaza in West Philly Wednesday morning, Nov. 16.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
Some of Philadelphia’s biggest labor, faith, and community leaders spoke and were present as local grocery mogul, Jeff Brown, officially launched his bid for Mayor in 2023 on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the First District Plaza in West Philly. Brown was met with roaring applause from a full house as he kicked off his campaign.
He began with an interesting analogy.
“I was thinking about the Phillies and the first half of the year they weren't doing too well. What's interesting is that they had talent. Around June, they brought in a new manager and it was like magic. Now the players did all the work, but they needed someone that believed in them to help them believe in themselves. They needed a plan. And all of a sudden we're in the World Series. I think that's what we need to do in Philadelphia,” said Brown.
Despite having no real political background or legislative record, his links with the city’s Democratic class on top of his independent wealth could prove to be a boost. More importantly, he touted his years as a grocer, businessman, and history helping some of the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods as traits that set him apart from the rest of the mayoral candidates, who are all former city councilmembers or officials.
“As a Philadelphian, I’ve watched City Hall. Unfortunately, I've watched them fail to really make any progress for us, and fail again to really make Philly work for us. I see legislation pass, people coming and going. But my customers, the people that I serve, are living in the same circumstances,” Brown said before offering a different future.
In the nearly hour-long remarks, Brown went over his life and career as a fourth-generation grocer who has owned a handful of ShopRite stores in the greater Philly area, and discussed his long track record of working with religious, and labor groups.
He also focused on public safety, police reform, and investing in more recreation centers and public places for youth to go to and keep them out of trouble and help bring down the rising crime in the city.
He has been well-regarded for having opened many of his ShopRite stores in neglected and disadvantaged neighborhoods as well as employing hundreds of formerly-incarcerated residents and giving them a second shot at life, or in his words, even a third chance.
“I'm not afraid to tell you that listening has been one of my greatest tools. If I don't understand, I ask questions, and I want to understand it from a person's point of view,” said Brown. “I'll figure out what needs to be done to solve the problem. I have to tell you, at the end of the day, when you're done listening, and you know what you have to do, sometimes you just can't take no for an answer.”
Brown threw his name in the already-crowded candidate pool that consists of former City Councilmembers Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, Derek Green, and Cherelle Parker, Allan Domb, and former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart. All are vying for a spot to replace Mayor Jim Kenney after eight years at the helm.
“I see City Hall and they do nice speeches, they have fancy press releases, they do lots of reports. And they spent a lot of time blaming other people for the failings they created. That system perpetuates poverty. They're not going to change this system. That's just the way it is. They're invested in it. Their friends make money on this system,” Brown said.
Brown’s official announcement was the conclusion of nearly one year of hints that began in early 2021, and the beginning of a new long journey on the campaign trail. Brown first signaled a possible Mayoral run after being outspoken on Kenney’s soda 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax that was created to fund pre-schools, community schools, and upgrade local recreation centers and parks.
He ended by talking about the trash on the streets and connected it to respect, something he called the currency of life.
“The bottom thing is quality of life. It's kind of embarrassing where we're at today. This is proven if you have trash everywhere, it creates crime,” Brown said. “Because you're treating people in a subhuman way. There's nothing inherently wrong with our city, our citizens or our workers. We are managing this the wrong way and I'm committed to fixing it. We need to show this community some respect. You gotta respect the people you serve.”