May 26th, 2006 12:44 EST
African-American woman strives for spotlight running for office
By Matthew Kent
Editor's note: The following is a story written by me about Tiffany Brown, a former candidate who attempted a bid to become the next Mayor in the city of Atlanta, Ga. Unfortunately, she failed to qualify for the actual race during the official filing period in mid-September for reasons unknown. I hope this article sheds some light on the way I approached the story from my view and to share how to interview officials running for local/state office.
OAK FOREST, Ill.--Tiffany Brown says she believes that her vision of dreaming and believing that things can take place will eventually happen. The 26-year-old Atlanta native is one of a handful of contenders in this year’s Atlanta mayoral race seeking to oust incumbent Mayor Shirley Franklin.
In the upcoming Atlanta mayor’s race, everyone has his or her own initiatives on how to beat Mayor Franklin to become the next Atlanta mayor. But Brown has her own strategy and says she possesses the skills needed to run and intends to prove it.
Although Brown says she feels she may be perceived as an outsider due to her young age, she says that shouldn’t deter people. “I may seem very young, but I’m actually very equipped to deal with this,” she said. “I want to provide an alternative for the city of Atlanta.”
She says her focus is different than other candidates. “I want to change the city is run and initiate change within city government,” Brown said. “We need people who can orchestrate change,” she said, adding that she feels she’s the right candidate for the job.
Brown, a political newcomer to the field, earned her B.A. in Political Science from Spelman College in 2001 and then obtained her Masters in Public Administration in 2004 from Clark-Atlanta University.
Brown said she wants young people to realize the importance of being involved in politics. “There is a viable option that after college, you can be a part of the policy-making process,” she said. “Politics is important because it affects citizens on a variety of levels—local, state and federal—and is based on things that affect your life.”
Earlier this year, she founded A New Day Atlanta, a political action committee that encourages people between 18 and 35 to run for public office. Brown said the purpose is to provide support for young candidates interested in becoming part of the political arena.
The race for mayor is Brown’s first run at public office and she feels like she identifies with the citizens of Atlanta and says her education and background in government make her the most qualified person for becoming the next mayor of Atlanta. Her resume is filled with previous jobs including the United States Government Accountability Office, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and the Atlanta Bar Association.
“Most of my jobs have been in government and it was definitely an enlightening experience,” Brown said. “It helped me on the path I’m on now.”
Two challengers along with Brown have also filed paperwork with the city clerk’s office to run against Mayor Franklin in November: Jesse O. Gray and Dave Walker. Brown notes that she knew politics was her calling from the beginning. She credits her mother and father—a teacher and minister, respectively—with encouraging her to become someone.
“I knew I wanted to do politics and it was just a question of when and the opportunity presented itself now (to run for mayor),” she said. “It became clear it was a great direction to go...I’m very idealistic.”
Brown brings to the table a variety of ideas and if elected, she plans to quickly initiate many platforms. The first thing she wants to do is conduct a full audit of Atlanta. “We need to see where we are and where we need to go…we need to see some straight-hard facts,” Brown said.
An increase in tourism and to pool 423,000 Atlanta residents along with the 4 million metropolitan area population to the downtown area is also important. But that won’t be an easy task in the transportation sector of Atlanta, according to Brown.
“We need help and transportation needs to be restructured,” she said. She proposes the city of Atlanta should have a transit system that runs 24 hours a day that connects Atlanta to Gwinnett, Clayton and Henry counties via one centralized transit system. “We need to create partnerships with state lawmakers to gear our focus on transportation.”
She would also like to see increased city planning, balancing safety issues, overcoming homelessness, decreasing taxes as well as bringing revenue into the city. She says the skyrocketing rates of property, garbage collection and water service tax fees are an enormous problem and feels bringing revenue into the city is the solution to the problem.
She proposes constructing a new Fine Arts District encompassing a 17-block area in the downtown area for restaurants, movies, plazas and parks, as well as creating a shopping center. “I think I could have an impact (on generating revenue),” Brown said. She also says if she’s elected mayor, she anticipates bringing more concerts and festivals to Atlanta. “I want to make the city more family friendly,” she added.
Regarding city planning currently, Brown said, “I would make a more hands-on approach…where we’re going it’s fine, but it has to be fine-tuned.”
Brown also thinks the city’s water system needs to be evaluated. “We need a comprehensive audit of what the best choice is,” she said. “We have a decaying infrastructure.”
So far, Brown feels she has it all figured out and hopes Atlanta realizes that too. With the average age of an Atlanta citizen being 31, Brown says, “There will be an interest because I’m still young.”
She says she relates to both young and old residents stating, “You must know your past as well as your future.” She also says she tries to be perfect and notes God as her central focus. “I’ve always been a person of faith…I feel this is important,” she said.
With a laugh when asked what her best qualification is, Brown stated: “My personality, as well as the ability to understand people.”
Overall, she just wants Atlanta to realize one thing: this is about the future of Atlanta. “As a community, I think we can all stand together and make a difference. Things can be changed and if we try, it can happen.”
She hopes people will understand her vision and the aspirations to make it become a reality by becoming the next mayor of Atlanta in November. “I’m definitely viable and I believe I have a fighting chance,” Brown said.