After this election season, Monday nights are going to look different for the Brown family. Marlon Brown, Mason’s first Black councilmember, isn’t running again. His seat won’t be empty for long, but his impact on the city will stay after his departure.
In 2012, at just 28, Brown was one of five running for a seat. With only four spots open, he spent months campaigning around the city, only to end up in a tie for his first position with councilwoman Barbara Tornholm. “The number has forever been embedded in my memory. It was 1,183 votes that I received.”
Breaking this tie was a first for the community. “She (Tornholm) actually wanted to try to withdraw in my favor. She wanted me to have the opportunity to serve, but she wasn’t allowed to do that.” Brown said.
“I reached into basically a shoe box.” Brown said Tornholm did not attend the ceremony in favor of him winning. “There were two slips of paper. One said elected, one said not elected. And I drew out the sheet of paper that said “elected.” He participated in two elections following the tie breaker, neither of which ended in a draw.
Brown is leaving to focus more on his growing family. After 10 years on council, he is ready to let someone else have a turn. His life is drastically different from when he was first elected. Brown feels this is his moment to leave.
“I’m at a different stage in my life and I want to put some of those efforts into things like my family. I can’t say that I’ll never go back into elective office again, but it’s certainly a good time in my life to take a pause.” Brown said. With the commitment the council needs, he’s missing vital time with his wife and their 7-year-old son.
Brown’s wife, Margaret, said she wouldn’t miss anything about his time on the council.
“That’s my visceral response,” she said. “It’s something that he really values. He’s very committed to the democratic process and being very involved in civic responsibilities. I will miss him having that sort of outlet.”
The two decided Mason was a good halfway point for both their jobs when they first settled down. Marlon had a job in Lansing, and Margaret had one in Jackson. Mason welcomed Marlon Brown into its tight-knit community.
“His character and consistency has been highly noticed over the years. And the respect that he has acquired throughout the community, I think has just been really outstanding, especially in a community like Mason,” she said.
City Manager Deborah Stuart said she’ll miss Brown’s calmness on the council. “He brings a steady and thoughtful evaluation of issues. He always considers both sides.”
Stuart was the first woman to be city manager, and Brown said that her selection for the position was one of the important things he did while on council.
Brown does not plan to stop working anytime soon. The biggest plan he has in his departure from the council is graduating in the spring with a doctorate in public administration at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia.
“I’m looking forward to doing it. Full regalia, big robe on the hood, everything else, and taking pictures and really just celebrating that accomplishment because it’s a lot of work to get to that point,” Brown said. He hopes to use his time on the council, and highest level of education to empower the younger generations with his knowledge
Brown is going to miss being able to serve his community, but still intends to volunteer, and be involved in Mason. “I love being in a position to help, to try to fix problems, to try to really bring a different perspective to the council. That was something that I always thought to do.”
Margaret Brown sais she is happy to see where life takes their family, “We’ve been together in some capacity over half of our lives. We’ve just enjoyed the ride so far, and we’ve got a lot more riding to do.”