Brown Officially Announces Candidacy For W-B Mayor
WILKES-BARRE — Declaring a “crisis of competence” in the current mayor’s office, former Councilman George Brown on Wednesday officially announced his candidacy to become the city’s next chief executive.
Brown slammed Mayor Tony George by claiming he appointed unqualified leaders of the police department, doesn’t have an interest in attending city council meetings and is mismanaging finances to the point he had to seek distressed status for the city.
“I am not running against any one individual. I am running against three years of poor decisions and failed leadership,” Brown said. “Four more years of mismanagement will put our city even further behind and we can not allow this to happen. The time for change is now.”
Brown thanked the dozens of people packed into a private room at Rodano’s Pizza and Restaurant for coming out on a bitter-cold winter evening.
“These people are true supporters,” he said.
George defeated Brown in a four-way Democratic primary in 2015, receiving 2,095 votes to Brown’s 1,944.
Their rematch will be held in the Democratic primary on May 21.
Brown suggested something must be wrong in City Hall since George already is on his third city administrator. He vowed to repair relationships with the city’s unions. He said combating crime would be a top priority.
The 67-year-old retired businessman noted George’s salary is around $82,000 per year and he has a top-tier health care plan that costs taxpayers around $30,000 a year. Brown vowed to cut his mayor’s salary to $60,000 and remain on Medicare instead of taking a health care package, estimating he’d save the city nearly $200,000 over four years.
With degrees in human resources and organizational management, Brown touted his 38 years of leadership in business in asking city residents for their vote.
“Together, we can create a new era of competence — a better way,” Brown said.
George returned fire on Brown following the speech, saying Brown was a do-nothing councilman who helped put the city in debt. He also said Brown is exaggerating his career in business, claiming he only managed a handful of people in a small company.
“I was dealt a $2 million debt because of some of the things he voted for while on council. They were kicking the can down the road and he was a part of it,” George said.
When the two served on council together, George said he pushed back against Mayor Tom Leighton’s financial plans that he claims ballooned the debt. Brown eagerly supported those plans, George said.
“He didn’t run on his merits because he doesn’t have any,” George said. “He did nothing while he was on council but put the city in debt.”
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