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April 19, 2023

Philadelphia candidates for mayor in 2023: Jeff Brown

The businessman is making his first run for elected office. His campaign is well-funded but it also has raised flags about how super PAC money may have been spent

2023 Election Mayoral Race
jeff brown mayor primary @JeffBrownGrocer/Facebook

If elected the next mayor of Philadelphia, Jeff Brown says he will put 1,500 more cops on patrol, improve street lighting and deploy advanced crimefighting technology. The primary election is May 16.

Best known for his grocery stores, Jeff Brown entered the mayoral race as a political outsider.

The businessman announced his bid for the Democratic nomination in November, quickly saturating the TV market with some of the first campaign ads in the race. The 2023 primary election on May 16 will mark his first run for political office. From more than 30 years, he has been the head of Brown's Super Stores, which operates 10 ShopRite supermarkets and two Fresh Grocer locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Some of those stores are located in food deserts, or areas where access to affordable, nutritious produce is scant. Brown received national attention for his ShopRites locations in Southwest Philly and Nicetown-Tioga, which were held up as models for bringing better food to low-income neighborhoods. Brown was further praised for hiring ex-convicts, who frequently face job discrimination by employers upon release from prison, at his shops.

But Brown has encountered considerable controversy since entering the race. This month, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics sued a super PAC aligned with Brown, claiming the group had coordinated with the candidate to circumvent city campaign contribution limits. While the full case is pending, a judge has already ordered the super PAC to stop spending money on the election. It could face $162,000 in civil penalties. The Brown campaign has denied any wrongdoing.

This legal action followed reports that Brown's campaign was under investigation by the Philadelphia Ethics Board. 

Brown has also been criticized for running ads featuring Michelle Obama, apparently without her consent, and saying people would "lynch" his opponents if they knew "all the things they do."

On his website, Brown lays out a five-point vision for City Hall that emphasizes anti-poverty measures, public safety, economic opportunity, education and opportunity for the formerly incarcerated. His crime plan calls for 1,500 more cops on patrol, improved street lighting and the deployment of advanced technology, like gunshot detection cameras. He also emphasizes gun buyback programs; Brown has previously donated gift cards redeemable at his stores to buyback events as incentives.

Brown was born in Northeast Philly and spent some of his childhood in West Philly. His family moved to suburbs in Montgomery County while he was in elementary school, and Brown graduated from Abington High School. He later graduated from Babson College with a degree in entrepreneurial studies. He currently lives in Rittenhouse Square. 

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