This summer while sitting outside reading I was fortunate to meet a most engaging and determined man. He had walked by many times and would say hello and a few words about the weather or the high school sport team he was helping coach. One day, however. as he passed my way he asked if I had a minute to talk and sat down in a chair.
I was soon shaking hands with Richard Brown, a former Dane County Board Supervisor, as he informed me of a desire to run for mayor of Madison. I expressed my respect for his intent to enter into a campaign as it is easy to sit on the sidelines and another thing all together to enter the arena. But as I listened more to the words and reasons that he gave for feeling a need to run I was aware of sitting next to someone who really felt the words he spoke.
This is not to say that others in the race for mayor are not sincere as I know they are and also wish to help Madison continue to grow and prosper. But Brown made it clear that if we are to prosper as a whole all the parts need to unite and feel the lift of progress.
That is what separates his bid for office from the other announced candidates, and also why his voice in the upcoming campaign will be most important.
As Brown sat on the lawn and told of his efforts, along with others, to sway former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray to enter the mayor’s race I could feel his sincerity concerning the issues of racial disparity that he was hoping to call attention to in the campaign. Had Wray decided to enter Brown would have been his staunch supporter.
I got the strong impression it was not that Brown himself wanted to be recognized as a candidate as much as he wants to highlight issues that need a full examination by the voters in the election. We all can applaud a candidate who places the larger needs over the personal ego-driven desire to run a race. In that way it best serves the electorate.
I told him that afternoon–win or lose–the main thing an effective candidate can do is bring issues to the table that forces a dialogue from all the others in the race. While The Capital Times has been doing some great reporting and analysis about racial disparity issues in our city I think we need to confront it head-on in a political contest and ratchet up the level of understanding on matters that impact our schools, courts, and neighborhoods.
A smart campaign can achieve that type of dialogue among the citizenry. And from just one solid conversation with Richard Brown I think he is the man who can use his own voice to make it happen in our city.
Brown has let it be known an official announcement of his candidacy is soon forthcoming.