257 Karen Brown


As school teacher for twenty years who retired and began a career working for the City of Philadelphia, I loved being able to help people. Making a difference, even in a small way, in the lives of others was worth more than income to me. Unfortunately, at this time, the city I love was at war.  Many city workers, teachers, fireman and police were working without contracts and had been for years.  The city was in the midst of a financial crisis that plagued every aspect of the lives of its inhabitants.   The schools were closing, the firehouses were “browned out” (which basically means shut for a period of time), policeman were retiring with no new recruits being hired, and the city workers were working for eight years without a contract. These groups were pleading with the city government and the Mayor to get funding for their group but their cries fell on deaf ears

I had lived in city all my life and this broke my heart.  As I walked the streets of Philadelphia, the fifth largest city in the USA and saw buildings like the Divine Lorraine in ruins with no hopes of renewal or regeneration in sight, I decided to run for elected office in Philadelphia to see if I could help change things.  I was, at first, aiming to run for City Council, because I had never ran for office before and I thought this would be a good place to start.  I was a long-time Democrat who also had friends on the other side. The other side, the Republicans, who were outnumbered in the city of Democrats, asked me to be their candidate, not for Council, but for Mayor! I became the first women to run for Mayor in the City of Philadelphia with a major party to win the party nomination against a long time Republican, win the Republican Primary and give the sitting Democratic Mayor a run for his money.  I was a candidate of the working class.  I had never been more than working class, myself, so I felt their pain.  Thus, I got support from the working class city-wide.  The trash men, fireman, policeman, city workers, union workers, and all members of the working class rallied around for the women who took on the sitting Mayor as a Republican in a city of Democrats.  I attended back yard cookouts, town hall meetings, church celebrations, union rallies, etc. from dusk to dawn each and every day.  I met people from all walks of life and listened to their plight in the city I loved and we shared.  I got the support of the whole Republican Party and from some big hitters like the former Mayor John Street, sitting Councilwomen Jannie Blackwell, and former Democratic member of Philadelphia City Council and of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives James Tayhoun, none of which were Republicans! In the end I lost but I will never forget the experience and the people I met along the way.