If you haven’t heard of Jeff Brown before, you’ve probably heard of his stores. Brown is the president and founder of the grocery store chains ShopRite and Fresh Grocer and is currently in the race to become the next mayor of Philadelphia.
Even though Brown has had no previous political experience, it was not a surprise that he decided to enter the mayoral race, officially announcing his run in early November 2022. His resume is, filled with various public service projects, including being Chairman of the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and former Chairman of the Philadelphia Youth Network. This organization currently heads the WorkReady program, which sets up young people in Philly with summer jobs, creating career knowledge and pathways.
His activism extends to his grocery stores as well. He has founded programs like Uplift Workforce Solutions, which reintroduces returning citizens, or citizens that were formerly incarcerated, and trains them for jobs and life. ShopRite and Fresh Grocer employ numerous people through this program. Many of his stores also have on-site medical clinics for low-income people and people without health insurance.
Brown has been recognized for his work in eliminating food deserts in Philadelphia, even being invited to President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union because of this work. He has opened supermarkets in Philadelphia areas that did not previously have other affordable, healthy food options: usually low-income and Black neighborhoods. Brown has been known to attend community meetings and reach out to neighborhood locals before he opens his stores, to hear input from the people that will be interacting with the store the most.
Brown explained his reasons behind running during his initial speech, saying, “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.” He uses his position as a businessman and an “outsider”, running on the platform that Philadelphia needs new, fresh representation. While Brown is currently the only non-politician running, he is not the only businessman. Former Philadelphia councilmember Allan Domb is now a major real estate developer. Domb’s platform is also based on the fact that he can successfully run a business and believes his retail skills prepare him for running the city.
Brown’s website features his “vision for Philadelphia”. This vision focuses on addressing “long-standing issues of generational poverty”, working towards “safe streets, neighborhoods, and communities”, expanding “economic opportunity”, “returning citizens” who are coming home from incarceration” and providing “quality public education”. Brown says he wants to focus on the current lack of equity in Philadelphia’s public school system, tying back into his passion for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work.
Brown’s “outsider” perspective, passion for DEI work, and overall “vision” for Philadelphia make him a compelling candidate for those frustrated with the way recent politicians have been leading. Brown faces nine other Democratic candidates during Philadelphia’s Mayoral Primaries on May 16th, 2023.
To learn more about Jeff Brown’s campaign go to: https://www.jeffbrownformayor.com/
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