At 35, state Rep. Amen Brown, who announced his candidacy for mayor on Friday, could become the youngest person ever to hold the office.
“This is a special moment,” he said. “This is our town now. … I’ve served my community all my life.”
Brown, who represents part of West Philadelphia, made his comments at the University Square Senior Community Center at 3901 Market St., with about 150 family members, supporters and media in attendance. He announced his candidacy in the neighborhood where he grew up, at 52nd and Market streets.
To critics of his age, he said, “I will bring innovative and fresh ideas to the table.”
For his part, Brown has been open about his mother’s struggles with substance abuse, how his family sometimes went without food, how he was a victim of gun violence at an early age and even spent time in prison.
But Brown said that experience means he has a lot in common with many Philadelphia voters and makes him uniquely qualified to understand and help solve those problems.
Public safety will be a key issue in his campaign, Brown said. But voters also care about affordable housing, criminal justice reform, jobs and economic development.
He said he has been criticized for his relationship with developers, but that it has led to economic development and job creation. Brown said he also supports targeted investments in underserved communities and securing good-paying union jobs.
Of course, Brown joins an already crowded field of mayoral contenders that includes several former city council members, Alan Domb, Derek Greene, Helen Gimme, Cherelle Parker and Maria Quiñones Sanchez; former City Comptroller Rebecca Rinehart; retired Judge James Deleon; and supermarket owner Jeff Brown (no relation).
One of Amen Brown’s key supporters is Marty Burger, CEO of Silverstein Capital Partners, a New York real estate developer. Burger teased Brown’s mayoral announcement at the Pennsylvania Society meeting in New York, where Philadelphia’s political class of candidates, elected officials, fundraisers and operatives meet each year to network.
According to media reports, Berger said he would start a political action committee (PAC) for Brown and raise $5 million to fund it.
To critics of his relationship with Republicans, he said, “I prefer solving problems to party.”
Some Democrats said Brown was flirting with Republicans, citing his support for a bill to increase mandatory minimum sentences; a suspicious encounter with retired surgeon Mehmet Oz, a former TV host and failed Republican senatorial candidate during his campaign against Sen.-elect John Fetterman; and his seat on the House Select Committee on Law and Order in the investigation of twice-elected District Attorney Larry Krasner.