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Michael A. Brown is filing his papers today to officially enter the race for an at-large D.C. Council seat as an independent. He’ll be facing longtime incumbent Carol Schwartz, as well as motivated challengers Adam Clampitt and Dee Hunter, in November for the non-Democratic slot.
Brown, son of legendary Democratic honcho Ron Brown and veteran of failed runs for mayor and Ward 4 councilmember, spent almost two months pondering his run on an exploratory basis. This time, Brown says, he’s really done his homework, leading him to believe he has a winning strategy. “It’s been all scientific,” he says. “When I ran for mayor, it was kind of on gut. Ward 4 council—-that was half gut, half scientific.”
His winning issues, Brown says, are a bit of a reprise from his mayoral run, where he made youth issues a centerpiece of his campaign. This time, he says, he’ll be focused on the disposition of closed school buildings—-“I am not a proponent of selling every asset we have for condo development. There is no reason those assets shouldn’t be turned into libraries, vocational centers, senior centers”—-and a “lack of opportunity” for youth.
In addition, Brown—-who has a background in municipal finance—-says he’s concerned about the District’s debt load and advocates refinancing bond issues for the baseball stadium and the convention center. “We need to take advantage of the rates now, get the payments down,” he says.
A big question is whether Brown, 42, is willing to give up his lucrative lobbying gig to be a full-time councilmember—-a pledge so far given by all his opponents. He recently left the lobbying firm Alcalde & Fay to join Boston-based Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge.
“I haven’t made that assessment,” Brown says, citing a need to speak with current councilmembers with side gigs such as Ward 2’s Jack Evans and at-large member David Catania about their experiences. “My first priority will be the people of the District of Columbia.”
Brown says he has no events planned until later next month, when he will conduct an eight-ward “whistle-stop tour” on Metro.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery