The adjuster: Brown wants a crack at Council

(First in our series of HotSeats on City Council candidates)

Published February 12, 2004, in issue#0306 of the Hook

As a chiropractor, David Brown knows that small adjustments can make a big difference to someone with problems. He feels the same way about Charlottesville.

As a first-time candidate for a seat on City Council, Brown has proposals he believes will change the city in seemingly small ways, but ways with the potential to make a big difference in people's lives.

Like many Charlottesville dads, Brown, father of two boys, has long been involved in the local soccer scene. Unlike some other dads, however, this energetic athlete– a runner himself– has gone beyond cheering for his boys from the sidelines. For the last five years, Brown has been involved as an organizer and coach in a soccer outreach program funded by grants from the Charlottesville/Albemarle Commission on Children and Families. The scheme introduces children from low-income neighborhoods to the joys and discipline of soccer.

"One of the teams I was coaching needed players," he explains, "and I went to Winx Lawrence, who had organized a team in Garrett Square.

"Five or six sixth graders joined us. The team came together, the kids became friends, we went undefeated, and then won the local Sunburn Tournament!" he says.

Lawrence, who started a soccer outreach program 12 years ago when her son, Avery, was playing, attributes most of the success of the program to Brown.

"David has brought wonderful organization, enthusiasm, and creativity to ensure the program's success," she says. "The kids adore him and seek his help not only in sports, but also for things like getting their driver's license and other life issues."

It's the connection with his soccer players and their parents that prompted one of Brown's "modest proposals" for improvements in civic life. Having experienced difficulties getting in touch with the parents of his players who live in public housing, Brown thinks it would be a small– but meaningful– contribution for the city to provide local telephone service as part of the rent for low-income citizens.

"All parts of their lives would be improved– job seeking, hearing from their children's teachers, interacting with social services," he says. "This is a small but important way Council could make a difference."

Brown's low-key, self-effacing manner disguises the passion he feels for the sport of soccer and for improving the lives of the kids he coaches– and of their parents.

"I don't do it only for the kids," he says. "As we've stood cheering together on the sidelines, I've gotten to know and enjoy their parents. People whose paths would not have crossed mine are now my friends."

Small adjustments, he has learned from work and play, can make a world of difference.

Age: 49

What brought you here? UVA in 1972; Jean and I returned here in 1982.

What's worst about living here? The fact that Charlottesville is located in such a conservative Republican state, with a shameful lack of support for schools, colleges, social services, and the environment.

Favorite hangout? Mudhouse

Most overrated virtue? Neatness

What would people be surprised to know about you? I can ride a unicycle.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A little musical ability would be nice.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? Serving as President of the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards

What do people find most annoying about you? I'm impatient.

Whom do you admire? Boyd Tinsley and the rest of the Dave Matthews Band for giving back to Charlottesville in a big way. (Boyd was active with the local Democrats before he hit the big time.)

Favorite book? Patrick O'Brian's novels

What subject causes you to rant? Coaches, who should set an example for our kids, berating referees, or worse yet, their own players.

What thrills you about life in the 21st century? Access to information

What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? The rudeness of popular culture

What do you drive? A black 1990 Volvo sedan

What's in your car CD/tape player right now? Steve Earle

What's your next journey? Probably NYC, to visit my brother, who lives in Sri Lanka but will be in NY on business, and my father.

What's the most trouble you've ever gotten in? In high school I totaled my MG Midget.

What do you regret? My regrets are mostly of the small, interpersonal kind: letters I never wrote, condolences I never expressed.

Favorite comfort food? Pecan pie. Spoon bread. Cheese cake.

What's always in your refrigerator? With two teenage boys, milk

Must-see TV? Washington Week in Review

Favorite cartoon? The Simpsons

 Describe a perfect day. An early morning run, breakfast and the NYTimes at Higher Grounds, a mid-afternoon nap, and cooking something new for dinner.

Walter Mitty fantasy? Dunking a basketball. Just once.

Who'd play you in the movie? Robert Duvall, if he were a bit younger or I a bit older

Most embarrassing moment? Chairing a disciplinary hearing while a member of the Virginia Board of Medicine, and forgetting the name of a fellow board member.

Best advice you ever got? "Measure twice, cut once." But I still didn't make a particularly good carpenter.

Favorite bumper sticker? "Weasel City, Virginia: Home of the Golden Wingnuts"

David Brown