City council elects Washburn student

The Topeka City Council meeting June 3, 2014 resulted with the addition of a familiar face back as a representative of District 2. T. J. Brown won six of the nine votes of the current council members.

During the allotted four minute introductory statement, Brown spoke briefly on the pride he felt as a Topeka resident. He also mentioned that the position of District 2 representative should be a decision made for the people.

“As an applicant, I ask that you carefully and thoughtfully make your decision about who will represent my district,” said Brown. “I say this with sincerity and without regard for whom you select.”

Brown has already served on the council once. In 2013 he was an interim member. He then decided to run for office after the seat became vacant again.

Brown mentioned that the decision was made with no personal desire for recognition or prestige.

“I did so because it was the right thing to do,” said Brown. 

After the opening statements, Mayor Larry Wolgast and each member of the council asked applicants a set of questions.

“For council members, there is the issue of serving your district versus serving the city as a whole,” said Wolgast when he initiated the Q-and-A.

Wolgast then went on to ask Brown to describe how he would deal with such an issue.

 “I very much liked the fact that serving was in that question twice,” said Brown. “It may be difficult to balance at times. However, I see no inherent conflict and make no presumption that there is a conflict between serving the residents of my district and protecting their interests against the obligation I would accept for the welfare of the city as a whole. I see both responsibilities as equally and inseparably important.”

Four Topekans put their hat in the ring for the district two seat election. The final vote was a six to three vote split favoring Brown. The candidate  that received the other three votes was Martin Munoz, who had presented his application at a previous meeting.

Council member Richard Harmon of District 9 asked Brown to complete the sentence “Leadership is…” during the Q-and-A section of the interview process.

“I believe that a leader is as a leader does.” Brown replied.

Brown acknowledged the constant learning process required for good leadership.

“As we all should be, I’m a student, not a master of leadership,” said Brown. “Leadership is being willing to serve those you lead and put the greater good of others before your own.”

The learning process alluded to by Brown does not only apply to leadership. In his personal life, he is also continuing his college education. Brown is a student pursuing an associate of applied science degree in design technology and a bachelor of integrated studies degree in communications, business and education at Washburn University.

Brown will now serve a district that he says is filled with “wonderful, hardworking and honest people who remember better days and hope for them in the future.”

Brown’s term will finish in April 2015.