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.