After several attempts to join the Garland Board of Commissioners, Austin Brown finally made history Tuesday night thanks to the voters in his hometown.
Brown, 22, became the youngest resident elected to the board, according to several officials.
“It made me feel good that people didn’t look at my age,” he said upon earning a four-year term. “They just looked at the young people coming forward and wanting to make a difference to Garland.
Before the election, he submitted interest statements when seats became available because of resignations. But he never received enough votes through a process of commissioners selecting a candidate to fill a vacancy.
During the election, Brown received 177 votes from residents throughout Garland.
“It just means the world to me,” Brown said. “I’m honored that they felt the need to put me in office and I look forward to working with them.”
Going forward, he would like to work on infrastructure projects such as the town’s water/sewer system, along with improving vacant structures and making upgrades on buildings such as the Garland Senior Citizens Center.
“We’ve got some outdated equipment that needs to be replaced,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of priorities that need to be taken care of.”
He would also like to continue to see improvements made to the Curtis D. Cain Memorial Park, which officially opened in the summer. That’s one of several developments he would like to see for youths.
“Growing up, I really didn’t have a whole lot to do in Garland,” Brown said. “One of my main concerns is the young people growing up today. They need to have a place they can go play and have fun.”
But overall, Brown continued to express how he wants to help all the residents who call Garland home.
“The main thing is looking out and making sure the citizens of Garland have a voice in what’s going on,” he said.
The Union High School graduate previously worked for the town’s public works department and was also a member of the Garland Volunteer Fire Department. According to unofficial election results, he tied with Eddie Bronson Jr., who will join Brown on the board soon, replacing Carolyn Melvin and Haywood Johnson. They each collected 177 votes during the contested race for three seats.
Incumbent S.J. Smith received 103 votes and will remain with the group. Richard Smith came in fourth with 49.
Murphy reelected mayor
Winifred Hill Murphy is looking forward to serving another two years as the mayor of Garland.
“I thank the citizens of Garland for their continued confidence in me by electing me as their mayor for a second term,” Murphy said. “I am honored and humbled to represent them and look forward to working with our board of commissioners and each citizen.”
During the election, Murphy competed against Commissioners Haywood Johnson and Ralph Smith. She came in first with 154 votes. Smith came in second, collecting 99, and Johnson garnered 21.
Both Johnson and Smith declined to make a comment regarding the outcome, which was the only contested mayoral race in the county. Smith will remain on the board after he was appointed to fill a void left by Commissioner Judy Smith. That term expires in 2019. Johnson’s term expires this year. He’s currently serving as the town’s mayor pro tem.
Murphy was elected to the board in 2011 and was appointed as mayor in 2012. Murphy was later elected in 2013 and became the first female and first black mayor in the town. As mayor, Murphy said she plans to continue to place a high emphasis on transparency, accountability and citizenship participation.
“We can and we will continue to keep our town beautiful, safe and a great place to call home, to work, and to play by working together and building on the greatness within ourselves and our town,” she said.