Brown favors transit upgrades, stricter crime punishment

Rocky Thompson

As an assistant manager and bartender at Tracey’s Saloon in the Seward neighborhood, independent mayoral candidate Gregory A. Brown said he has seen firsthand how Minneapolis has neglected elderly and handicapped people.

Prior to working at Tracey’s, Brown drove a cab for eight years and witnessed the difficulty elderly people face when trying to get from here to there. If elected, the 46-year-old said he would make it a priority to install a better service that would make it easier for the elderly to get around.

Regan McCormack, a wait-staff coordinator who works with Brown, said she has watched Brown for the past four and a half years do everything in his power to accommodate people who are handicapped.

“It might not seem like a big deal to rearrange tables to accommodate some of our special needs customers, but that’s just an example of the way Gregory goes out of his way to help these people daily,” McCormack said.

Rodney Johari, a Republican candidate for mayor, said he agrees with Brown that transportation for elderly people is an issue in the election.

“I spoke with a man who has to arrange his rides with Metro Mobility three days in advance,” Johari said.

In addition to transportation, Brown said he sees crime and housing costs as important city issues.

Brown said he thinks there are too many plea bargains and that many people do not have to pay for their crimes.

“Specifically, for crimes against the elderly, mentally handicapped and children, there should be no plea bargains,” he said.

Brown said if elected he would not tolerate these crimes and feels that stricter punishment would lead to a reduction in crime.

Brown said revamping vacant buildings and buildings with boarded windows – coupled with building more multi-unit properties around the city – could help to alleviate some of the unaffordable-housing burden.

Will Janecek, a local entrepreneur and landlord, said he agrees.

“The city needs more high-density, high-rise buildings, and they need to be able to sell the units inexpensively,” he said.

Janecek also said he feels housing is the most important issue in the mayoral race and that the issue will be most influential on how he votes.

Although he is not actively campaigning on the issue, Brown said he also thinks the cost of attending universities is getting too expensive: “My son goes to (the University of Minnesota-Duluth), so I know firsthand how expensive universities are.”

And although Brown said he feels the state Legislature and Gov. Jesse Ventura didn’t give enough money to higher education in the last session, the Minneapolis native said he is seeking Ventura’s endorsement.

Although Brown is not seasoned in politics, McCormack said Brown has a lot to offer the city.

“He draws on a wealth of life experience and has a fresh approach, a new set of ideas,” she said.