Bellamy W. Brown For Charlottesville City Council
My name is Bellamy Brown. I was born and raised in the City of Charlottesville. My grandparents, my family, my neighbors and my faith have instilled in me a dedication to service to others, our community and our nation. I am a proud product of Charlottesville public schools, James Madison University and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
I have been moved to offer to the community I love, service as a member of our City Council, with a non-partisan, independent “servant’s heart.” I ask for your support for the change our city critically needs.
Over the past several years, our City Council has been fraught with turmoil, political conflict and dysfunction. There has been a lack of effective working cooperation, and a lack of working respect among themselves and anyone with whom they disagree.
If you elect me to City Council, I make a promise to our community to bring to Council, this basic three-part “Framework For Our Future.”
ONE – Restore Governing Integrity and Respect
At times recently, City Council conduct has been shameful. City Council must adhere to governance, – and fulfill the charge of governing. That begins with mutual respect and integrity in each Councilor’s oath and pledge to the best of each of their abilities to strive for positive outcomes for all of our citizens. That’s what integrity means to me.
Government is the people’s business. As such it must be open; and transparent in its processes, transactions and in its conduct. Dr. Sipho Moyo, rightly stated, "transparency is a cornerstone of good governance as it allows citizens...to hold institutions and governments accountable for their policies and performance." We've experienced the impact a lack of transparency has had on our community. I will strive to change that in order to help our local government run more effectively and align more closely with the interests of our community.
Governance is never disrespectful, foul or raucous language. Governance is not open-ended, dragging-on public meetings filled with arguing among each other and our citizens. Nor can governance succeed amid disorder. Nor is governance ever micro-management. The City has a professional administration requiring direction, not commandment. I promise that as a City Councilor I understand the task of governance and will always respect my Council colleagues and our citizens. In agreement or disagreeing, I will strive to find common ground and collaborate with all Councilors, the professional city administrators and our citizens on all matters.
Good governance takes into consideration the present and future needs of our community, uses sound judgment in policy-setting and decision-making, and acts in the best interests of our community as a whole. This means being accountable, responsive, effective, efficient, equitable and inclusive. It means following the rule of law. In order to achieve good governance, we must be willing to operate in a manner that takes into consideration all community members' interests, and ensure those interests are addressed and reflected in policy initiatives.
Governing integrity also means fiscal responsibility. The City priorities and challenges can and should be better understood, defined and sharpened. A high priority must be the taxpayer. City Council should have a constant priority to consider reducing the taxpayers’ tax bill whenever possible. There is a difference between needs and wants. Fiscal discipline will better match allocations with well-articulated priorities. Outside of emergency fiscal demands, allocations should be made in the context of a fiscal framework and plan. City Council should rarely, if ever, make on-the-spot allocations of funds.
Clearly our community has lost trust with City Council. Having served honorably as a leader within the U.S. Marine Corps; in addition to having held various leadership positions within the business community, I have gained first-hand experience of what it takes to build trust with those I've served. And that trust continues today. To navigate through the many challenges facing our community will require those same strong leadership skills. Additionally, it will require collaboration amongst public, private, nonprofit, and other community partners. Once again, I promise – whether in agreement or disagreeing – I will strive to find common ground and collaborate with all Councilors, the professional city administrators and our citizens on all matters.
TWO– Make our City More Affordable, Safer and Cleaner
We have a great city. We have great neighborhoods and great neighbors. However, far too many of our neighbors struggle for safe, clean and affordable housing, both rental and ownership. The City must figure out ways to better assist our neighbors in their pursuit for proper housing. While a judicious allocation of supplemental resources is pivotal, money is not the sole answer. The City should invite home building firms and professionals to bring inventive approaches to the challenge. Our city needs both workforce and affordable housing. The home builders build homes. Let’s make them our partners and aggressively attack the job.
We have great schools that are striving to be better and more equitable among all our students. I promise to support these school efforts and programs, such as new CATEC curricula matched to the global workforce demands of today and tomorrow.
We have a great city. People come here from long distance to live, work, play and visit. Unfortunately, the media drumbeat of “Charlottesville” has stained and hijacked our reputation and identity. Businesses on our Downtown Mall endured disruption and decline in commerce from visitors and our neighbors. The Mall is safe. Perception however, taints reality. We need to change that perception and retrieve our distinction locally and well beyond. Our City needs to forcefully step up in reclaiming our reputation as a great place to visit, live, work and enjoy for all citizens, and people from all walks of life.
Our city is great but there are times and places when it doesn’t shine as brightly as is can. I promise that a cleaner, safer, more affordable city will be a high priority of mine as City Councilor.
THREE – Greater opportunity – It all starts with a JOB
City Council needs to work to broaden the span of economic opportunity for our citizens. That all starts with a job – the best economic development driver ever invented. To have employment, you must have employers. I will work diligently with all employers, those currently here and those we seek; to assist them sustain and create JOBS – all jobs with concentration on good paying jobs and jobs with an advancement pathway.
As essential as it is to opportunity and our vitality, we cannot rely solely on the University of Virginia. And we cannot have City Councilors championing the idea that business is bad. We care about the business community! As the late Congressman Mo Udall said, “You can’t be pro-employment and anti-employer. If you want jobs, you have to welcome and work with employers.”
Our City has embraced efforts such as “Network2Work” which has trained and placed hundreds of citizens in career-pathway jobs. That innovative partnership between public education and private enterprise, initiated with private funding and business support through the regional chamber of commerce, should be expanded.
I promise you that as City Councilor I will embrace and welcome all employers – business, governmental and non-profit civic organizations and the jobs they generate.
I offer you my service as a member of the Charlottesville City Council. I offer our city change. I offer this “Framework For Our Future.”
Thank you taking the time to consider my candidacy.
I welcome your support.