No one should blame me for turning on the Philadelphia mayoral debate tonight, considering I’ll be participating in a Chester mayoral debate very soon. I figured I’d give it a listen and maybe pick up a few tips from the Philly mayoral hopefuls. I imagined how I’d answer some of the questions that were asked. 

And then came candidate Jeff Brown talking about trash in Chester, which made me start paying close attention. 

The exchange went something like this…

MODERATOR: “One of your campaign slogans is ‘Pick up the BLEEP trash.’ Littering, illegal dumping, and sometimey garbage pickup system continues to be a persistent problem in the city. Where Philadelphia trucks some of its trash has spurred accusations of pollution and environmental racism, specifically from the residents of Chester. Would you as mayor keep or change the existing waste disposal contracts?”

JEFF BROWN: “So, uh, I really don’t…I’m not sure, because I would bid it out, but I’m not sure if that changes it or not. But Chester is Chester. I’m worried about Philadelphians and how their lives are. And so what will come first to me is what will be best for my Philadelphians.   

MODERATOR: So you don’t care about Chester?

JEFF BROWN: I do care, but I don’t work for them if I’m the mayor. I work for Philadelphia, and the trash has to go somewhere. And whoever gets it is going to be unhappy with it.  

REBECCA RHYNHART: “That’s not…an appropriate answer.”

CHERELLE PARKER: “That response…that response is the same way you treat the black and brown community that you call.. generated your livelihood.”

HELEN GYM: “It’s a disgrace.”

Damn right it’s a disgrace! Hell no it ain’t an appropriate answer! 

But let’s take into consideration Chester’s “official” position regarding Philly’s trash being burned here, according to our current mayor Thaddeus Kirkland.

In early 2021, I wrote an article in the Swarthmorean newspaper entitled Talking Trash which describes a letter mayor Kirkland sent to Philadelphia to encourage them to continue sending their trash to Chester to burn. Philadelphia took him up on the offer and will be sending their trash here for the next 20 years. So, it’s not out of line for Jeff Brown to believe that Chester welcomes Philadelphia’s trash, even though I and many others don’t. Thankfully, the ladies on stage all immediately called out Brown’s diss on Chester as inappropriate.

After the “Chester is Chester” exchange, I slumped back in my seat, but jumped up again when I heard Rebecca Rynhart return to Jeff Brown’s dismissive statement about Chester, stating…

“We need to have a public health approach to every aspect of our city including some things such as where we put our trash. We shouldn’t be sending it to Chester to be burned.”

Thanks Ms. Rhynhart.

And then Chester came up again! There was Cherelle Parker responding to the Philadelphia opioid crisis with, “I want a regional approach, that would mean I would have to call my good friend Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland of Chester, the entire five county area, since 75% of the people who are suffering from the opioid crisis are from outside of Philadelphia…”

She was probably referring to the March 29 presentation in Chester City Hall where mayor Kirkland and county officials urged residents to take advantage of free Narcan giveaways that has been part of a concerted effort by the Delco Prevention and Recovery Coalition, co-chaired by District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer and Director of Human Services Sandra Garrison over the past two years, to get Narcan into the hands of as many citizens as possible with the hope that it will be on site wherever and whenever it is needed. 

I don’t know the real stats, but I believe, like Ms. Parker, that 75% of the people who are suffering from opioids in Chester are from outside of Chester. From my vantage point, opioids aren’t the drug of choice for Chester users. But Chester is fast becoming the city of choice to set up recovery houses occupied by people mostly from outside our community. 

The lesson learned from tonight’s Philadelphia mayoral debate at Temple University is that Chester City is on the tip of a lot of tongues in this region. We can’t sit by and let folks talk about us like this. 

I’m very disappointed in the comments made by Jeff Brown last night. Good neighbors care about each other. I’m afraid that Jeff Brown as Philadelphia’s mayor would not make a good neighbor if he thinks that Chester should serve as Philly’s garbage dump. We deserve better than that. 

I am demanding an official apology from Jeff Brown for his insensitive statement about our city. Shoot me a comment if you support this action.