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Josh Brown, Chamber board member, enters Ward 5 GF Council race

A Grand Forks insurance agent announced Monday he has entered the Ward 5 City Council race.

Josh Brown, 32, is an insurance agent and a member of the local Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. He’s running on a platform that espouses good fiscal sense, advocating for a close look at the city’s budget to stretch city dollars further.

“Our city is run well and we’re doing good things, but a little tweak here and there and we could be doing even better,” he said.

One component of that platform is how the city tackles infrastructure projects. Brown said he wants to build a more solid “road map” to how the city’s priorities take shape, especially when it comes to things such as local road work. Once that plan is in place, he said, the city will have a clearer path forward.

Brown, an agent with Thompson-Schaefer Insurance Agency, previously has worked as an agent for Mutual of Omaha. A 2002 Red River High School graduate, he holds a degree in marketing — with a minor in business administration — from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

He previously made an unsuccessful run for the Grand Forks School Board in 2014.

Brown’s thoughts on infrastructure figure into an ongoing city discussion about a potential bump in taxes. As a means of paying for tens of millions in local infrastructure projects — which range from a new public library to a 42nd Street underpass — local leaders have discussed a 0.75 percent increase to the city’s sales tax.

“I want to dive into the actual numbers and see if this 0.75 percent sales tax is actually needed,” Brown said of the measure. “Or, are the dollars there and we haven’t put together the plan to actually use them?”

Beyond finance and city development, Brown added one other measure he hopes to pursue: improving the city’s permitting and licensing process. In the course of his discussions with local business leaders, Brown said he’s heard the processes to receive things such as a building permit or liquor license could be streamlined. If elected, he said it’s an issue he plans to investigate.

Ward 5 includes the southeastern portion of the city east of South Washington Street and has been represented by current City Council member Doug Christensen since 2000. Christensen decided not to seek re-election earlier this month; C.T. Marhula, a former Grand Forks School Board member, is the only other candidate who has declared intentions to seek the seat.

Election Day is June 14, and Brown said he’s the man for the job.

“I will be a new and valuable voice to add to the council to keep the city moving in the right direction,” he said.

Meet Josh Brown

Grand Forks’ Ward 5 Hopeful

Professional Experience:

Insurance agent at Thompson Schaefer Insurance Agency

Political Experience:

Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks board of directors

Policy:

"Attract and retain businesses to continue to improve local economic development and diversification,” and added that the city needs to plan and prioritize expenditures as well as plan for future infrastructure projects.

“I feel we do a good job of planning what we want our community to look like 10, 20, 30 years down the road, but we also need to incorporate how we are going to pay for everything we need and want to do... We have the resources to do all the things we need to do, it is just a matter of sitting down and putting the plan together on how we are actually going to accomplish it.”

Education:

Graduated from Red River High School in 2002 and received a degree in marketing and business administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2006.

Family:

He and his wife have two children.

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108
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