As a fairly new resident to Visalia, Michael Brown, 33, is motivated and ready to get involved in city government. Why Visalia? First, his wife, Sarah, is a Mt. Whitney alumna, so the connection is homegrown. As newlyweds, they have chosen to settle and possibly start a family in Visalia. Sarah is currently employed by Kaweah Delta Hospital and Michael is a lawyer and energy consultant working to establish his client base here in Visalia.
While his friends and family are excited about his running for office, he was asked why such a new arrival would be interested in filling a Visalia City Council seat. Brown said he is really impressed with our current city planning and thinks Visalia is the most beautiful city in the Valley. He firmly states, “I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the current city council; they are doing a great job, but I feel I can help bring something new.”
He says that Visalia reminds him of the earlier days in his hometown of Stockton before it faced bankruptcy. “Stockton has so many problems now, and I don’t want to see this happen to Visalia. I want to help make sure Visalia maintains and improves by helping young college graduates find work in newly established industries.”
Brown cites North Dakota’s 1% unemployment through new jobs as a result of increased industry for college graduates as an example for success. “This is my area of expertise. I would like to help create more opportunity for employment through manufacturing, storage distribution, food processing, transportation hubs, factories and energy.” He believes bringing in more small businesses and expanding industry is the future for our city’s continued success.
Brown says he became far more interested in politics after joining the Federalist Society. He has worked with Bob Barr (former U.S. Congressman and Libertarian presidential nominee) and John Burton (former California Senate Pro Tem and current California Democratic Party chairman). He admits this experience has really helped him to see political issues from both sides and gain the needed wisdom necessary for a future in politics. He believes serving on city council is the best way to get started.
As a past employee of Pacific Gas and Electric, Brown says he is now an expert in energy matters with a BS in industrial engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. While working for PG&E and also serving as a consultant on gas and water issues at a San Francisco law firm, Brown attended law school and eventually passed the bar. He has eight years of experience as an energy consultant and has been actively involved in water politics. Although also now an attorney, he is still employed by Clean Tech Law Partners of San Francisco.
When asked about some of the current issues facing our city, Brown readily admits he needs to learn more. He enjoys walking around town, meeting new people, and asking them about their main concerns and issues in Visalia. He agrees that “infill” should be a priority, but he also hopes that this would not interfere with the progress of new jobs coming to the area. “I believe in the long-term that the city will continue to grow to the north and west. I believe in encouraging development. I also believe Visalia needs to retain its character and sense of community. I would like to revitalize downtown Visalia by attracting more tourists, artists and commercial businesses. I would seek to discourage empty lots and abandoned properties.”
Brown believes that his vision for increasing industry would help to alleviate some of the crime that is the result of joblessness and homelessness. “Visalia has some very positive attributes which make it potentially attractive for businesses. Visalia is centrally located between the ports of Oakland and Los Angeles, the relatively low cost of living makes Visalia attractive for raising families. It is located near Sequoia National Park which is great for tourism, and Tulare County is still an ideal place for agriculture. The main obstacle for Visalia is convincing industry to move into this area and really making it a place business leaders want to come and set down roots. I believe I can help recruit business to Visalia.” Brown says that he is hard working, ready to learn, share his knowledge and contribute to his community.
On a personal note, Brown enjoys playing guitar and is also quite an adventurer. He loves travel and lived in San Sebastian, Spain, for eight months and speaks fluent Spanish. He proposed to his wife, Sarah, at the base of Mt. Everest before climbing “some of it.” He also loves sports and is a regular basketball player at Kaweah Delta’s Lifestyles Center. More information about Michael Brown and his campaign are on Facebook.
The writer, Adina Escarsega, owns The Clay Café in Downtown Visalia.