Brown Will Challenge W-B Mayor George In Primary

January 30, 2019 GMT

George Brown thinks there’s a better way for Wilkes-Barre.

The former city councilman revealed Tuesday he plans to challenge Mayor Tony George in May’s Democratic primary, setting up a rematch of the 2015 campaign.

Brown formally announces his candidacy tonight at 6:30 at Rodano’s Pizza and Restaurant on Public Square. The campaign theme is “Brown for Wilkes-Barre: A Better Way.”

“We have a better way. We have a better way of resolving the issues facing the city,” Brown said in an interview Tuesday.

In a four-way Democratic primary in 2015, Brown came in second place to George, who ran on a “Law and Order” platform. During that campaign, George tried to paint Brown’s candidacy as the potential fourth term of outgoing Mayor Tom Leighton and said voters deserved change.

Brown, 67, a retired businessman, insists he’s his own man and plans to better make his case to voters this time around.

“My ideas are different and new. They are fresh and based on the experiences I’ve gained in my lifetime,” Brown said. “I’m going to work as hard as I can. I’m going to be a very public candidate. I will be in your neighborhood.”


Brown said he will outline his agenda in detail this evening, inviting residents to attend the free event. He said he’ll also lay out his dissatisfactions with George, such as the problems that hovered over the police department during his first term. Public safety will be a major issue during the campaign, he said.

Mayor reacts

George said he has long suspected a challenge from Brown.

“I think he started his campaign the day after he lost,” George said. “So I knew he was running. It was not a big secret.”

He said he doesn’t have any ill will against Brown, but doesn’t think the feeling is mutual.

“People win. People lose. You have to accept it,” he said.

The mayor said the city was financially distressed when he took over, and his administration is turning things around. He also touted how his administration has started replacing major sections of the wall along Solomon Creek.

George, a former city police chief and councilman, announced his re-election campaign to a group of donors in October. He said he’ll be having an official announcement event Feb. 20 at the Riverside Cafe on Old River Road.

Brown’s background

Brown, a resident of South Wilkes-Barre, served one term on city council before running for mayor in 2015.

He and his wife of 45 years have three children and three grandchildren. Brown has a bachelor’s degree in human resources and a masters degree in operations management.

He is the founder of the South Wilkes-Barre Residents Association, vice president of the Wyoming Valley Veterans Day Parade Committee and is a trustee of Luzerne County Community College.

In the 2015 election, George received 2,095 votes to 1,944 for Brown.

Brown wonders if his first name and George’s last name confused voters, so that’s why a new campaign committee was formed, “Brown for Wilkes-Barre.” He expects better results this time around.

“Over the last three years, I have listened to the people,” Brown said.

Analyst: One-on-one race would be close

Dr. Thomas Baldino, a political science professor at Wilkes University, said the outcome of the matchup between George and Brown heavily depends on if anyone else enters the race.

A race with more candidates favors George, while less candidates helps Brown, he said.

“If the primacy race is just two people, then it will be an interesting and entertaining election. The two candidates are very different in terms of personal styles, professionalism and experience, which means the voters will have a choice between two very different people,” Baldino said. “If the primary has three or more candidates, then the incumbent mayor will not only be victorious in the primary, but he’ll also cruise to an easy win in the general election.”

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570-821-2055, @cvbobkal