Chris Brown had a reason to celebrate Monday night after he was selected to join the Alexander City City Council but there was no party.
“I had another meeting to attend after that and then I went home to spend time with my family,” said Brown, 42, who prides himself on his work ethic after 13 years with Empire Pipe & Supply. He started as a laborer, putting the pipes in the ground, and now sells them.
Brown obviously sold the city council on himself during an interview last Thursday as the membership voted unanimously to put him in the District 5 seat which was vacated when council president Tommy Spraggins became mayor upon Jim Nabors’ death a month ago.
Brown said he will bring a well-balanced perspective to the council when he is sworn in June 17.
“I am a blue-collar man,” Brown said. “I worked my way up from the ground floor and I think people respect that. It shows I am not scared to strap my boots up and go to work. I felt like they thought I am a well-balanced person who can not only relate to blue-collar workers but also recognize business and business goals.”
Brown was the first and only candidate formally nominated Monday. Russell Medical marketing manager Susan Foy and Tallapoosa Ford owner Jeff Smith also interviewed but neither got nominated as the council promptly voted 4-0 for Brown, who said he intends to run for a full four-year term next summer after finishing the rest of the current term which expires in October 2020.
The day after his selection Brown was on the move making sales calls in the Dothan area and spoke about his vision and philosophy in this question-and-answer session with The Outlook.
Q. Would you say you are more conservative, middle of the road or liberal?
A. I’d like to say I am middle of the road. I’m a registered Republican but I think there are positives to both parties. As far as politics go, that’s not really me.
Q. What are the values that will govern you as a councilmember?
A. The decisions I make will be what’s best for the city. I’ll talk to people in District 5 and make the decisions that are best for progress. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made and sometimes they’re not popular. My years of experience in sales and dealing with customers, negotiating and working toward goals, coming from starting out as a laborer to work through where I am now, gave me a balanced picture of how business runs and working with others, working in one direction.
Q. What do you think of the current council?
A. I think a lot of good things have happened with this council. I think I’ll get along with everybody on the council. I’m a people person and I give people the respect they deserve and I think the council will give me respect.
Q. You got emotional during your interview with the council, choking up when talking about your love of Alexander City and your family. Are you an emotional person or was that unusual?
A. Most people who know me know I am a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve. I’m very passionate. I really care about our city. When it comes to something personal, talking about my family or the city, I guess I don’t try to hold it in. I’m not embarrassed by it. My family and my city are important to me. When it comes to business, I will make sure I understand the whole process and make a good decision.
Q. How do you feel about the city’s decision to buy the former Russell Sales Office and move city hall there?
A. Consolidating all resources in one area will have a positive impact. I wasn’t involved in that process and I don’t know all the financial burdens as far as upgrading our current facilities as opposed to moving out there. I don’t know if it was the right decision financially but I think it will be good for the city to be on the (U.S. Highway) 280 corridor. I think we’re seeing the impact of what’s already being done.
Q. Were you surprised you were selected to join the council?
A. I’m very surprised and very humbled. I was surprised it was unanimous. Anytime you go through an interview process it’s hard to win over the whole room. I know I went into it with the mindset that I’m doing this for the city and I’m going to give it my all. I felt I had a good interview. I know it was a tough decision because Jeff and Susan were very good candidates.
Q. What are your goals for the rest of the term?
A. I’d like to see us find industry and create some jobs and continue to find ways to make the quality of life for city employees better. Overall just set the city in the direction of growth. I think it’s important that we find not only professional jobs but industry jobs and jobs of trade.
Q. Are there ways the city can do things better?
A. I think the transparency of ideas, on what’s going on, and the big picture, I think we can do a better job letting the public know what those are. If everybody around you knows what you’re working for you can get good feedback, positive and negative.