“Born and bred” Charlottesville resident Carl E. Brown has served the community in various positions. Now, in seeking a seat on the City Council, he plans to bring his collaborative leadership abilities to the city’s legislative branch for another position in public service.
“I have a good relationship with collaborative skills. I’ve worked in the private and public sector as well as with youth and reentry programs,” Brown said. “Whatever I don’t know I can figure out as I go.”
Through Brown’s background working in nonprofits, serving on boards and working as a consultant, he connected with a variety of community members — members whose insights he would hear as a member of the council.
“We need to be open to people’s ideas,” he explained. “I come in open-minded and ready to work. I’m a team player and I look forward to working with the other council members. I can connect whatever ideas you have. I’m the connector in all of this.”
Brown previously worked as a program manager with The Fountain Fund, a nonprofit that offers low-interest loans to formerly incarcerated people in need of funding to reestablish their lives. First founded in 2017, Brown said he was involved in the early stages of establishing the entity.
A priority if elected will also be to take a closer look at budgets in order to be more cost effective.
“When you talk about something on such a large scale, you need to know where all your money is being spent,” Brown said.
As a council member, he advocates for line-item expenditures across departments to better understand what each department is asking for and what each department is utilizing.
Criminal justice reform is also something that he sees as a priority for the community.
Brown has experience working within criminal justice agencies and reentry programs. Reducing incarceration and helping formerly incarcerated individuals is important to him.
He also sees ripe opportunities to bridge gaps between different organizations and agencies.
As the current council is collaborating with various stakeholders, experts, and advocates on a mental health crisis task force and two crisis intervention mediation groups composed of area residents have established themselves in recent months, Brown said that collaboration between those entities and existing law enforcement can be beneficial to the community.
“We can collaborate to where police officers have an opportunity to reach out to the BUCK Squad or [mental health crisis groups] to give indicators before they respond to a situation,” Brown explained.
BUCK Squad — along with Sitdowns Before Shootouts — are resident-created mediation groups whose goal is to reduce violence and respond to situations in lieu of needing to always call law enforcement.
Meanwhile, Brown added there may be times one or more groups may need to respond together.
“That kind of collaboration builds for better interactions,” he said. “Then police can know they have an outlet and maybe cross training.”
On development, Brown explained that he will encourage developers to locally source their contracting and other workforce needed as much as possible.
“If you are going to develop, put the money back into the community and not bring in somebody from Florida or elsewhere,” Brown said.
He plans to communicate with developers on who can source work locally and advocate for that as much as possible.
“People see the construction, but they don’t usually see the economic change and people working on it.”
He recalled his experience while in college to be able to earn some money while he participated in the construction of an addition to the University of Virginia Medical Center.
Brown would also like to support vocational training and trade skills in the area for people who do not want or need to go to college to bolster local workforce development. He also supports financial literacy programs in the area.
“Success looks different for everyone,” Brown explained.
Helping people to understand what that is for them is a passion of his, and it carries into his goals as a potential member of council who can help Charlottesville achieve its success.
“I’m going to have to work with four other people and I want to find out what they know. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, I’m just changing some spokes,” Brown said. “We’re going to keep the tire, we just need to do some things differently.”
Brown is one of four Democrats whose names will appear on the ballot during the June 8 primaries. The incumbent, Mayor, Nikuyah Walker, is an independent candidate and will appear on the ballot in November’s general election.