Seeking Barstow Mayoralty, Preacher’s Daughter Brown Touts Down-To-Earth Working Class Values

Saying, “I believe that an individual elected must be a strong person, with true commitment, and willing to put in the time to listen and learn,” Virginia Brown said she is running for Barstow mayor because “As a resident of Barstow for over 50 years, I have been an advocate for various causes in our community. I am working for the people to be an ear that listens, a heart that cares, and a voice that will speak out against corruption at all levels.”
She said she is committed “to bring fair, firm consistent leadership back to our city seat, to bring accountability and transparency to the city, to reconnect the people and those in the council seats together, and open a dialogue that will provide for growth, better jobs, as well as family and elderly programs. Allowing the people to be involved in building a future for themselves, their children and grandchildren that will be something that they are a part of.” She looks toward, Brown said, to “a future for the people, of the people, by the people by being a person responsible to the people.”
She is, Brown said, “someone who will work hard for those who have elected me. As a working wife and mother, I understand balancing my commitment to a job and my family. The same commitment, dedication, love and hard work is a must in any relationship you have. A mayor must see this office as a relationship, not a job. Having been an advocate for others within our city, I’ve seen and heard firsthand the struggles of resolving issues and finding solutions when it seemed impossible. I’ve been actively attending city council meetings where concerns were brought up and never resolved. Meeting with city officials and continually seeking solutions and advocating for the people to fix issues has given me the desire to continue, because I’ve seen with proper communication and hard work anything is possible. I’m qualified to do just that. I’ve been a strong advocate for those who needed a voice. I’ve met privately with city managers and other staff to discuss and resolve issues for the people. I’ve been one of the people working, living and surviving in our community. As a worker within the community I have been out every day, right alongside the citizens of Barstow, hearing their concerns and their issues and feeling their pain. I’ve seen them stand. I’ve seen them fall. I’ve been there helping them back up and offering them hope and support. As a sergeant in a men’s prison who worked my way up from yard officer to control officer and then sergeant, I’ve had the opportunity to fine-tune the art of listening, working through the facts, problem-solving. I have communication skills. As a sergeant I had to be willing to sacrifice my life for the safety, security and well-being of everyone that I was responsible to and for. I had to be firm, fair and consistent. I had to keep an open mind and look at every situation as it came up to allow for complete transparency in every decision made and every action taken. Being fair, firm and consistent I believe are key requirement for success. Holding myself, my officers and yard staff accountable was not an option but a priority if the inmate, staff, officers and those above me were to respect who I was and that I was doing my job properly. I was not going to vary from what was right. No matter what, I stood by it and still do today. Through this time I was nicknamed by everyone on the yard ‘By the Book Brown,’ for being open-minded and remembering that I do not know everything and I must verify all the facts, making sure everything was presented, which kept me from being seen as unfair. Transparency in my decisions and every action taken kept me honest along with all my officers and staff. These are qualities our people need in the council seat to allow them to trust and have confidence that their futures are in safe hands and that they can engage without any partiality.”
She is distinguished from her opponents in the mayoral race, Brown said, by how down to earth she is.
“I am truly one of the people,” she said. “When I say one of the people, I mean ‘by the people, of the people, for the people.’ I am truly one of those people who struggled to feed her family, clothe her children, had tough times paying bills, having to prioritize a want from a need.” She was, she said, “a parent who often had to choose as my child grew which bills to pay and which ones could wait because the job was part time.” She worked, she said “several part time jobs to keep my family above water. As one of four candidates, I know that at least two did not struggle with these issues, and they had the financial means to live above the level the majority of the people have to deal with. This allows me to look at the responsibilities to the people differently. Growing up, my brother and I cleaned yards, climbed on roofs to help those who couldn’t get their swamp coolers ready for summer and weatherproofed for winter. As the daughter of a minister, I spent a summer living with an elderly female amputee, cleaning, cooking and assisting her. In my senior year I lived with an elderly woman, being her caregiver. I did not come from the background and lifestyle afforded to others, but I am richer today for being taught a servant’s heart. I was privileged to be a part of this community, a community that worked together, assisted neighbors, looked after and cared for our seniors.”
Saying that she speaks for the city’s residents she has heard from, Brown said the major issues facing the city include fire department and police department operations and the proper expenditure of the funds from Measure Q, a public safety and city services measure placed on the November 2018 ballot which passed with 59.22 percent of the vote and imposed a one-cent sales tax calculated to generate up to $7 million per year. She also said the city is struggling with creating higher paying small and industrial-type jobs, housing and employment growth, youth and senior citizen services, family programs, dealing with the drug addiction of some city residents, redressing the spate of local homelessness, assisting families and the elderly and medical shut-ins, and education.
She said steps need to be taken to ensure Measure Q money goes to public safety.
“Good businesses are the backbone of the community,” she said. “A smaller population has a hard time supporting a broad range of goods and service. The key to success in building a healthy business community in a small town is to create an economic development plan that maximizes the community strengths and minimizes its weaknesses. It is vital that the bulk of the populace is included in planning and execution. We need to bring our community together to form a vision and set goals for local economic improvement. We need to include as many community members as we can to ensure that our goals are shared and supported by the majority. I have found that leaders who ignore the community in favor of their own agenda only hurt the efforts of growth. We can offer incentives to new businesses such as property tax breaks, micro-loans, discounted fees and permits.”
She said the city should emulate larger cities in their operation of youth programs, programs for seniors and programs for families.
“Unfortunately when it comes to the homeless situation and the need for drug rehabilitation, our city leaders have faltered,” she opined. She advocated working with outside entities or agencies that have a demonstrated record of successfully dealing with such challenges.
She said the city needed more entertainment venues than the one theater, its sports park with its several types of fields subject to limited use, a single outdoor pool, and a second park that offers very few amenities currently. She decried the skate park at the second park referenced having “unfortunately turned into more of a drug area than an actual skate park. We need to offer our families more types of entertainment. We used to have a bowling alley and a skating rink. We need the type of activities that are offered to other communities. Activities don’t have to be expensive.”
Brown said, “As for the elderly, shut-ins and those with medical needs, we as a community can and should be watching out for them. We need more assistance programs and people that understand and can assist those with needs in receiving the help, from filling out paperwork, assisting in finding the proper programs and getting these citizens hooked up and plugged into these programs. We can set up a site and with the people working together actively set in place, with people willing to volunteer to work on the site or at a preset location or even going to those in need and making sure these citizens are able to return to an active lifestyle that has been denied for so long. Everyone who has a talent or skill that can add to building these programs in our community should be contributing. No one should be left out, no one excluded.”
In promoting education, Brown said the city should undertake the sponsorship of training programs to redress “the lack of job skills” among a major segment of the Barstow population. “Not everyone has had the opportunity to experience the same training as others,” she said. “Setting up programs to teach these skills for learning and growth can expand our work force, allowing those who may not have previously been able to apply for certain careers the opportunity to learn things, such as hands-on computer workshops and technical and mechanical trades. Teaching them these skills is a great avenue to assist in their chances of finding and securing that job that will bring them and their family to the next level. While I was working in the men’s prison, we had classes that afforded the inmates the chance to learn everything from budgets to financial planning, seeking for jobs, filling out applications, and much more. These same types of programs with local volunteers who understand and are willing to reach others can offer a much needed resource in our community.”
Brown confidently stated, “The issues I’ve covered are for the most part already funded. Those that are not can easily be paid for with grants and by those who are able to with donations.”
She has a familiarity with government, Brown said.
“My experience with government truly began as an officer in the men’s prison,” she said. “While history, law and government have always been a passion for me, I grew my knowledge of how the government works, the proper channels and avenues of dealing with the law while employed there. It taught me the appropriate course of action necessary while allowing me a broader view of the everyday things that either bring about success or failure when seeking solutions.”
She said, “I have been in Barstow since I was 7. We moved here around 1970. My father accepted a position as a pastor. He worked as a teacher in our local schools, as he was not taking a salary from the church. He valued education and taught me the value of it.”
Brown graduated from Barstow High in 1981. She attended Barstow Community College, where she studied history and criminal justice. She subsequently returned later to complete courses in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, and received training and certification as an emergency medical technician. She also steeped herself in classes dealing with emergency preparedness and response to emergency situations, including earthquakes and disease.
Brown is now employed at the Barstow Home Depot, where, she said, “I’ve been privileged to interact with so many of our local citizens.”
Brown said, “I’m married to a wonderful man, Jimmy Brown, for over 35 years now. I have four children, and eight grandchildren.

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