GARLAND — With goals of making improvements in his hometown, Austin Brown has his eyes set on being a commissioner.
Brown filed with Sampson County’s election office Tuesday morning for a seat on the Garland Board of Commissioners, which makes important decisions for the town of more than 600 people.
“I believe I bring a passion for the people and a strong commitment to serve, which is why I have chosen to follow this path,” Brown said.
The Union High School graduate works for Big Blue Store in Clinton. He previously worked for the town’s Public Works Department. After being selected for the position in December 2014, some of his duties included maintenance and monitoring wells and sewer pumps. He submitted his resignation letter to the Garland Commission in April 2016.
“During that time I found a lot of things that needed attention and a lot of things that we need to get addressed,” Brown said about infrastructure improvements.
Brown was also a member of the Garland Volunteer Fire Department, but stepped down to run for a commissioner seat.
“It’s all about looking out for the citizens of Garland,” Brown said.
If elected, one of his goals is to pave dirt streets and fundraising efforts, as an alternative to raising taxes for citizens.
The 22-year-old wants to help youths in the community as well by providing more recreational activities. He also alluded to how he wants to inspire younger people to get involved in the local government process.
“I want to be able to step up for our younger generation and let them know that it’s OK to file for pubic office and stand up for what you believe in,” Brown said.
The upcoming election is Brown’s first time running for office. As of Tuesday evening, he’s the second resident to file for the Nov. 7 election. Terms for Mayor Winifred Murphy, Mayor Pro-Tem Haywood Johnson, Commissioner S.J. Smith and Commissioner Carolyn Melvin will expire this year.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge and getting out to meet folks, one-on-one and finding out what their needs are and what they want to see from a town commissioner,” Brown said.
Brown believes that commissioners must engage more with residents to improve relationships. By doing this, he said this will give them the assurance that town leaders are doing what’s right.
“Our citizens of the Town of Garland to me are our greatest treasure and I truly believe they are the key to making Garland a better place to live,” he said.
If Brown receives enough votes to become a commissioner, Brown said he would be honored to bring his knowledge and love for the town.
“Garland is at an important crossroads,” Brown said.
Although he’s pleased with the work of the current board, he alluded to how challenges still exist.
“I look forward to helping with any committee I’m assigned to and I’m willing to do whatever is in the best interest of our town.
“I plan to offer honesty, integrity and accountability to this board and to my town,” he said. “To me Garland is a small town with a big purpose.”