Bellamy Brown

Independent City Council candidate Bellamy Brown officially kicked off his campaign Saturday at the Holy Temple Church of God in Christ in Charlottesville.

He has graduate degrees in finance and accounting, served in the U.S. Marine Corps, is studying politics and leadership and hopes to sit on the Charlottesville City Council.

Bellamy W. Brown, 40, who grew up in the city’s Venable neighborhood, stood Saturday in the sanctuary of the Rosser Avenue church his grandfather founded and formally announced his run for the council.

Brown is the grandson of the late Rev. Charles H. Brown, who was a leader in the city’s African American community and at the forefront of early efforts in affordable housing.

Brown is the third independent candidate to officially join the November election for three seats on the City Council after receiving approval of petition signatures to get their names on the ballot.

Three Democrats, who were nominated in a June 11 primary election, are also running.

Brown said party affiliation at the local level can be problematic.

“I find partisanship creates more of an impediment, as opposed to being a conduit, to getting the work done on behalf of the people who need it the most,” he said. “At the local level, our focus should be on fixing roofs, ensuring public housing is mold-free, fixing potholes and our transit system and, of course, solving our housing issue. We don’t require partisanship to do any of that. We simply need to do the work.”

Brown said he believes the council should focus on its duty to govern and serve the people as openly as possible.

“I believe our local government needs to get back to the basics of governing. From my vantage point, I believe transparency in action, not simply as a buzzword, good governance and sound leadership are necessary,” he said.

Brown said he joined the Marine Corps after realizing while growing up that he would need to go to college to reach his goals.

“In having access to, and viewing the lives of friends who were not economically challenged and didn’t look like me, I knew higher education would be necessary to give me a chance at not living in poverty,” he said. “The only way I found at the time for me to attend college was to serve my country in the military.”

Brown earned a master’s degree in accounting from Liberty University, a master’s in finance from the Keller Graduate School of Management and a bachelor’s in finance and political studies from James Madison University.

He has worked in finance for Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, among other companies. He is also a member of the 2019 leadership program at the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.

He said his decision to run for office comes from lessons learned while in the Marines, including the importance of serving others and of duty to his community.

Brown said he believes citizens need physical freedom from unwarranted government or citizen interference and monetary freedom to actively participate in the local economy.

“For some of our residents, these freedoms are not yet realized, and we must insist and work for these freedoms to be applied across the board,” he said.

Brown also said the city must work with developers, builders, businesses and all residents to effectively address the problems citizens face.

“We cannot progress by demonizing any of our partners, whether they are public, private or in the nonprofit arena,” he said. “We have a lot of intellectual, as well as financial, capital in this area. There should be no reason why those in our marginalized community should have to wait another 30 years for their needs to be met.”

Brown will join independents Paul Long and John Hall and Democrats Michael Payne, Lloyd Snook and Sena Magill on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. No Republicans are running for the council.

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