By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
On Tuesday, Aug. 23 residents in the cities of Brighton; Fairfield; Midfield and dozens of other Birmingham metro area cities will go to the polls to elect a mayor for a four-year term.
Runoff elections, if needed, would be held Oct. 4.
Brighton’s mayoral election features one of the youngest candidates in the state – 24-year-old Brandon Dean. Other hopefuls for the seat include incumbent Mayor Barbara Watkins; Eddie Cooper; Tyrone Rudolph and Annie Woods.
Efforts to reach Watkins; Cooper; Rudolph and Woods were unsuccessful.
If he wins, Dean would be Brighton’s youngest mayor and second youngest in the state. Though his age may be unsettling to some, he does not think it is a barrier, he said.
“What’s unique about being young is that I have a sense of urgency . . . we have to get in there and get things done; we need to prepare the city for the next generation to come in and have opportunities and have hope,” he said.
Dean, who grew up in Brighton and lived there until attending Howard University, said that being young brings a new energy that the city has not seen.
“The environment at City Hall will be more conducive if you have more positive energy flowing in it,” he said. “If you have a leader that is more involved and has a relationship and understanding of the people who work there, that’s important.”
He also added that an important factor is getting to know the people of Brighton City Hall before making decisions.
“Before you go in and say ‘I’m going to demote this person,’ or fire someone, you have to first see what you have,” Dean said. “Some people bring a valuable amount of knowledge that can’t be artificially created.”
Dean said he is not opposed to speaking with others running for the office.
“Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist,” Dean said. “I have the greatest deal of appreciation for their desire to serve but there comes a time when you realize that your service might be empowering someone else who actually will bring the town to the place of leadership that it needs to have.”
Dean said the city faces a number of challenges. Brighton’s police department has faced fiscal challenges and has had police cars donated.
“I want to look at what we hear about law enforcement in our community, and what is actually happening,” Dean said. “I want to know what they need that we are not able to provide financially.”
One thing that must change, he said, is culture.
“We have to take a firm approach in refining what is the only line of defense between citizens and God-knows-what.”
Dean said he is running with a slate of other candidates that include Shawndale Johnson (Place 4), Marquise Moore (Place 1) and Ashley Henderson (Place 3), who are running for seats on the City Council.
“They bring a wealth of vibrant experiences and knowledge to the table that I think is essential to set a pace for progress in the city,” Dean said. “The city council will be a big piece of me being able to govern… if we can have the mayorship and those three council seats it puts us in a great position to execute policy, programming and ideas that will put Brighton on sound footing very quickly.”
Others running for Brighton City Council seats include Joseph Edwards Sr. Place 1; Rhonda Bean, Place 2; Bruce L. Taylor, Place 3; Lamby Warren, Place 4 and Lonnie Murry, Place 5.