A League of Women Voters forum for Upper Darby mayoral candidates Ed Brown and Brian Burke scheduled for Tuesday was canceled after Brown backed out.
Brown, the Democrat now serving as president of the Upper Darby School Board, posted a message on his Facebook account saying he would not participate.
Oddly, while saying he had pledged “to run a purely positive campaign,” he called Burke a liar in his post.
“After much deliberation, I’ve decided not to participate in a debate with my opponent,” Brown wrote. “My opponent has launched his campaign with lies and conspiracies about my record, accomplishments, and vision for Upper Darby.
“A debate is supposed to be a discussion and sharing of plans and ideas, but I will not legitimize my opponent or inadvertently dignify nastiness and pettiness by wasting time responding to it. Instead, I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, which is sharing my positive message for our community directly with voters,” Brown said.
Burke said he has been campaigning hard, knocking on doors to talk to voters.
Burke said the two main issues on voters’ minds are crime and problems with the education system.
Burke, now serving as council president and councilman at large, is a lifelong Upper Darby resident and has worked in the township since 1997. Burke followed in his father’s footsteps into politics and is focused on enacting positive change as a councilman.
Burke is a State Local 420 Steamfitter and previously served on the St. Dorothy’s Athletic Association board. He serves as the vice president of the Aronimink Swim Club. Burke lives in Upper Darby with his wife and three kids.
Burke made news when he changed his registration from Democrat to Republican due to problems and mismanagement of the township’s funds by Democratic officials.
The current mayor, Democrat Barbarann Keffer, is not running again after a DUI arrest. Another scandal that hit the Upper Darby government is the arrest of the former parking director, Sekela Coles, for allegedly stealing money from parking kiosks.
The council had fired former township manager Vincent Rongione amid questions about how ARPA funds had been handled. The sweetheart deal Rongione secured was the last straw for Burke.
Brown was elected to the Upper Darby School Board in 2017. He has lived in the township for 24 years, holds an MBA from Drexel University, a master’s in network security from Capitol Technology University, and a project management certificate. He works for Lockheed Martin as a cybersecurity engineering manager. He is married with three children.
Brown has been active in the schools and the nonprofit Men of Action Brothers of Faith and served as its president.
Councilwoman Meaghan Wagner, executive director of the Delaware County Republican Party, said, “What Ed Brown calls deliberation, I call panic. After both campaigns agreed to debate, I was scheduled to attend the meeting to finalize the debate rules. What is clear about this whole debacle is that Ed Brown does not know how to defend his record at the school district at a public forum, nor can he legitimately excuse the mismanagement and corruption in the township administration. The fact is that school taxes continue to rise, academic performance continues to deteriorate, the district recently proposed doubling its debt obligations, and the superintendent himself issued a public cry for help to control the violence in our schools.
“If Brian Burke is wrong about Brown’s record, then you would think Brown would want to challenge him in public. In reality, he cannot refute the facts, so he has chosen to go into hiding. Let me be clear: Brian Burke will debate Ed Brown any time and any place, and, frankly, that is what the residents of a township spiraling out of control deserve,” said Wagner.