Not long ago, Karen Brown was a “union girl” seeking the Democratic-party endorsement in a City Council race. Today, the retired Catholic-school math teacher is a “fiscal conservative” mayoral candidate backed by the Republican party. While handing out plastic, candy-filled eggs at South Philadelphia senior centers a few days after Easter, she explained the shift.
“Milton Street was behind me in line and I said to [U.S. Rep. and city Democratic Party boss Bob] Brady, ‘you can’t really be considering him,’” Brown said. “I called [Republican Party boss] Vito [Canuso] that night and made an appointment to see him the next day.”
Despite long odds, the behind-the-scenes political bit player thinks she can win. She also claimed incumbent Mayor Michael Nutter’s “green” initiative is a rip-off of her suggestion to put solar panels on streetlights.
“If you can’t afford expensive sneakers, buy ‘Bobos.’ I don’t believe in credit cards,” said Brown, whose opponent John Featherman points out bankruptcies and ethics violations in her past. Of the former, she explained her husband fell ill while they were investigating and rehabbing properties. The latter comes from being an inexperienced candidate.
Brown, a tried-and-true South Philly native who started Southwark Civic Association several years ago, accepted that support could come from “protest votes” and defined her support base as “women, seniors, gays and Asians.”
“I have as much a chance, if not more, than anybody else running,” she said. Anybody who disagrees “is wrong.”
Some of Karen Brown’s campaign literature includes a photograph of a firefighter who’d soon get injured in a blaze and a typo (the “Shes’s ready to lead!” was a printer’s error), but it offers some insight into her campaign platform.
» “In order to return the city to its feet and get it off its knees, Philadelphia must stop using taxes as a way to balance excessive spending.”
» “We need to asset the entire school system and board to find and fix the problems in the system to ensure quality education for all children.”
» “We need to take Philly from a welfare city to an employment city.”