‘Down-to-earth brother’ sends out wake up call
This article is part of an ongoing series profiling candidates running for various offices and how their election might impact our communities.
Anthony L. Brown is ready to shake things up in the judicial community. A novice political candidate, Brown tossed his hat into the ring for this statewide seat on the bench, he says, “to foster more of a connection between judges and the people they represent.”
Brown said that prior to his run he defended the underdog and championed criminal cases for the less fortunate while working as an attorney for almost two decades in Ramsey County. Now, he stands as an underdog candidate to serve as a Minnesota Appeals Court judge in November.
Of the nearly 100 judges up for reelection this midterm, only nine are facing challengers. Brown is challenging incumbent Lucinda Jesson, who hasn’t faced an opponent since 2010 and was appointed by Governor Mark Dayton.
Brown said he hopes his campaign “will be a wakeup call for other lawyers to consider running for judge in the future…so the people making laws will be more a reflection of the voters they serve.”
The 41-year-old Chicago native graduated from Hamline University Law School and practices for Capitol City Law Group in St. Paul and the Ramsey County Public Defenders Office. He currently serves as chairman of the Saint Paul Human Rights Commission and is co-chairman of the Innocence Project of Minnesota.
Even with his educational accomplishments, successful courtroom track record, and legal accolades, Brown prides himself on being a “down-to-earth brother” who can be heard every Saturday holding court at Grooming House Barber Shop in St. Paul.
Here, we talk with Brown on how he hopes to impact the state.
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder: What is the most important thing you want to accomplish when you get in office?
Al Brown: I want to be an excellent judge — one whose impartiality is never in doubt and whose knowledge of the law, hard work, and compassion are the standard by which other judges will be judged. I want to be a leader.
MSR: What is the most controversial issue you think you have to deal with when you get in office, and how are you going to deal with it?
AB: It’s hard to anticipate what might come across my desk, but I know I will deal with all issues from a view that every litigant is equal in the law without regard for race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or any other matter.
MSR: How do we get money out of politics, i.e. limiting campaign financing?
AB: By supporting candidates who refuse special interest money! I am totally self-funding my campaign.
MSR: What do you say to people who hate politicians?
AB: Hate is pointless — voting is all that matters. Politicians respond to elections, not emotions.
MSR: What’s your favorite thing or story about your district?
AB: I am running a statewide campaign, and so my favorite thing about Minnesota is the quality of life. Most people work very hard, but they also know how to get away to a cabin or a barbecue with friends. That isn’t the case in all states.
MSR: What is the greatest impact your position will have on the African American community?
AB: I will not approach cases with assumptions about the Black experience. I know first-hand what it is to be Black and male in this country and in this state.
MSR: What elected officials (past or present) in the state do you most admire or serve as role models for you?
AB: I would choose Harold Washington (the first Black mayor of Chicago), but being limited to the state of Minnesota, I choose Paul Wellstone. He was far from perfect — but you knew where he stood. That is missing in public service.