Mayor Jim Gray named a real estate agent who has been active in Fayette County schools and in his neighborhood association as the city's 1st District councilman Monday.
James Brown, 38, said he was honored Gray appointed him to replace Chris Ford, who recently was named the city's social services commissioner.
"I am also excited and looking forward to working with fellow council members on issues that are important to the 1st District, like economic and work force development, public safety, additional programming for parks and recreation, historic preservation, education, and looking for and identifying partnership opportunities that allow the city and the school district to help student achievement," Brown said at a news conference and swearing-in ceremony at city hall.
Brown has never run for elected office but said Monday that he planned to run for the seat in November in a special election. Brown is a registered Democrat, according to voter registration records. Urban County Council races are nonpartisan.
Brown said he was disheartened when Ford, who had been on the council since 2011, announced this year he was stepping down. Brown said he was surprised when he was mentioned as a possible replacement but thought a position on the council would continue the work he has done in the schools and in his neighborhood.
Brown, who grew up in Charlotte Court in the 1st District, has a history of community involvement. He has been active on Bryan Station High School's site-based council and the 16th District PTA. He has been president of the Radcliffe-Marlboro Neighborhood Association for several years.
In addition, Brown has spent the past 14 years as a Realtor. Before that, he spent 13 years working at Toyota in Georgetown.
Brown said his experience on the site-based council and with his neighborhood association would help him on the 15-member Urban County Council.
"I have experience working with budgets on the site-based decision-making council and at the 16th District PTA," Brown said.
Gray said Brown topped the list of potential contenders for the appointment because of his deep ties to the district, which includes much of downtown, the East End and part of the north side. The district has challenges, including unemployment that hovers near 20 percent in some areas. But the First District has attracted a lot of public and private investment in the past five years.
"James is passionate about neighborhood, family, young people, schools and public service," Gray said. "He will be a great addition to the council."
Brown's appointment comes during a crucial period. On Tuesday, Gray will unveil his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The Urban County Council also will resume debate in June on raising the minimum wage.
Brown said he hadn't decided whether he to vote to raise the minimum wage in Fayette County above the current federal minimum of $7.25.
"I really don't have a stance on that yet," he said. "I want to hear the opinions of those that support the increase in the minimum wage and those that don't support the increase in the minimum wage and what the implications are for the whole community."
Brown and his wife, Charmayne, have three children. He is a graduate of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.