Candidate profile: Jean Brown
Jean Brown, at-large candidate for Greensboro City Council. (photo by Keith T. Barber)
Jean Brown, an at-large candidate for Greensboro City Council, said her inspiration to run for elected office was about keeping a solemn promise. Last year, Brown spoke during a public hearing at a meeting of the Greensboro City Council regarding a proposal to raise water rates by 6 percent. Brown said she implored council members to not to impose what amounted to a tax increase on citizens during these tough economic times.
“I said people are losing their homes, they don’t have jobs and we don’t need any more taxes at this point,” Brown recalled. “I said, ‘If you raise it, I’m going to run the next city council election and I hope I get one of your jobs.’”
Despite opposition from residents, the city council approved a resolution to raise water rates. However, in two separate actions, the council voted to rescind the rate hike in late 2010 and early 2011 by using the proceeds from a lawsuit settlement. Brown acknowledged the rate hike reversal, but said it was the fact a majority of council members voted to raise water rates in the first place that convinced her to run for an at-large seat.
It's no coincidence that one of the major planks of Brown’s platform is no new rate increases or tax increases on the city’s residents.
“I’m against raising anything right now that’s going to take some more money out of our citizens' pockets,” Brown said. “We need to think of other things to do, and I do have things in mind that would raise revenue without raising taxes.”
Brown said she believes there are other forms of revenue the city can tap into without raising taxes.
“I’m for balancing our budget,”Brown said. “I want to cut down or out a lot of the entitlements people are getting. I think we should rethink all of this to see where best money should go.”
“I’m not talking about people now that are absolutely looking for a job,” she continued. “I’m talking about people who will not work; I don’t think we should give them a check.”
Brown said she originally supported the proposal to reopen the White Street Landfill as a cost-saving measure for the city. However, after speaking to people who live near the landfill that oppose any proposal to reopen it, Brown said she’s now open to hearing other waste disposal alternatives.
“There’s got to be an answer,” Brown said. “We can’t just say, ‘I want my way.’ There’s got to be an answer. I wish I had the wisdom of Solomon to tell you what it is, but I don’t know what it is.”
On Aug. 16, the Greensboro City Council approved a resolution to select Gate City Waste Services to operate the White Street Landfill. Last week, Gate City Waste Services notified the city that it was withdrawing its bid to operate the landfill. The council voted to extend its contract with Republic Services to receive the city’s solid waste at its Uwharrie Environmental Landfill in Montgomery County through the end of the year.
On the issue of jobs and the economy, Brown said the city’s Economic Development & Business Support department should cut back on its rules and regulations for small business owners applying for loans.
Brown said she attended Rockingham Community College in her fifties and studied travel and tourism. Upon graduation, she had an idea to start a bakery and catering service, but couldn’t secure a small business loan. If elected, Brown said she would serve as a strong advocate for small business owners.
“We offer incentives to big business to come here, but what’s wrong with offering incentives to small business?” Brown asked. “We have too many things that prevent people from opening a business. We should be more business-friendly.”
With regard to environmental issues, Brown said she’s very concerned about clean drinking water for all residents. This summer, the Greensboro Water Resources Department announced it was changing the disinfectant from chlorine to chloramines to meet new federal drinking water regulations.
“I don’t know about the chemicals they’re putting into our water now,” Brown said. “Ever since they changed I’ve not been able to drink this water. Who gave them permission to put this in our water?”
Brown also said she would not support investing more resources to revitalize downtown Greensboro and that the city should not support programs that enhance the local arts community.
“They should be able to support themselves,” Brown said. “I don’t think we should [underwrite] their growth.”