Another former Charlottesville mayor has joined the Democrats running to represent the Charlottesville area in the Virginia House of Delegates.
David Brown joins a crowding field of candidates to represent the redistricted 54th District.
“I decided to run because I’ve been devoted to trying to make the community and the state a better place,” said Brown, who served on City Council from 2004 until 2011 and was the city’s mayor from 2004 through 2007.
Brown said his experience as mayor, especially working with Albemarle County on major infrastructure projects such as the John Warner Parkway and the dam at Ragged Mountain, have prepared him to represent the 54th District.
“I feel like I can be an effective advocate for this city and the county,” Brown told The Daily Progress on Tuesday.
After he left City Council, Brown worked as a special assistant to House Minority Leader Del. David Toscano, who represented the Charlottesville area, from 2012 until 2014. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe appointed Brown director of the Virginia Department of Health Professions in 2014, given Brown’s experience as a chiropractor and on the Virginia Board of Medicine. Former Gov. Ralph Northam reappointed Brown in 2018. Brown left the role in October 2022.
Health, specifically women’s health, is top of mind for Brown.
One of his priorities, if elected, will be protecting reproductive rights, Brown said.
“We need to work hard to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Brown said.
In January, Republicans in the House of Delegates voted down a proposal that would put the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution. Currently, abortion is legal in the Commonwealth up to 26 weeks, with some medical exceptions after that point.
“But at the same time, there’s more than that,” Brown said. “The fact is that a woman of color is 2 1/2 times more likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth or within the first couple of months after childbirth than a white woman.”
Brown also emphasized the need to address climate change.
“We need to make sure there’s no barriers to getting solar on apartment complex roofs, solar on our businesses,” Brown said.
He also said he would prioritize a state-level response to gun violence. It’s a topic that has been much discussed in Charlottesville of late after the Nov. 13 shooting at the University of Virginia that left three student-athletes dead, the Jan. 8 shooting in the city’s Belmont neighborhood that left one dead and the Jan. 28 shooting in the Fifeville neighborhood that killed a member of the city’s anti-gun violence organization – to say nothing of the multiple shootings already reported this year that have only injured their victims.
He said localities each take a different approach to combating gun violence, when a “concentrated state effort” might be more effective.
Brown said he would also prioritize support for public schools and teachers. A bill to allow Charlottesville and Albemarle County to levy a 1% sales tax to fund school construction has passed the Senate, but it’s unlikely it will make it through the GOP-controlled House during this legislative session.
“We need to have good facilities, but that’s just the beginning of it,” Brown said.
He said he would like to see a pay increase for teachers, too.
“We’ve gone from paying among the very last in the country to moving up the ladder, but we need to do more for teachers, Brown said.
Brown has been the chairman of a number of local organizations. He represented the city on the Rivanna River Basin Commission from 2010 until 2011 and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority from 2010 until 2011. From 1989 until 1997, he was on the Virginia Board of Medicine. He was president of the local arm of Offender Aid and Restoration. He also was the operations and communications director for Edison2, a Lynchburg tech startup, from 2009 until 2012.
The Democratic primary for the 54th District seat has become crowded in recent months.
Albemarle County School Board Chair Katrina Callsen, former Charlottesville Democrats co-Chair Dashad Cooper, former Mayor Dave Norris and former Police Civilian Oversight Board Member Bellamy Brown have all announced their candidacies.
The primary will be held on June 20.