ATLANTA -- Some Atlanta voters will decide this fall whether to send a convicted felon to serve on the city council. One candidate in the district three race served 13 years in federal prison on drug charges – and makes no effort to hide it.
In the 1990s Ricky Brown says he was a DJ at Magic City – a strip club which he said was fueled by the prevalence of powder cocaine. A federal drug trafficking investigation there ensnared Ricky Brown – and sent him to prison for 13 years.
"I just got caught up in the war on drugs back in those days," Brown said Tuesday. "And came back home."
Brown got out of prison eleven years ago, and started a business in Atlanta helping ex-cons get jobs. Now the job Brown wants is district three city council – where he says says voters relate to his background.
"When you’ve got this many ex-offenders – I mean this country imprisons more people than any country in the world – so a lot of people understand," Brown said.
The third district is in Atlanta’s westside, rooted in English Avenue and Vine City, neighborhoods that have faced crime and poverty challenges for decades.
Ivory Young has been the councilman 16 years, and is running again. But Young says Brown's criminal record does "not at all" disqualify him from serving in politics.
"You bring the best that you have. But what’s required, irregardless, is a level of humility and a true servant’s heart," Young said. He adds that he has known Brown for years.
Asked if the residents of district three would be better off with a city councilman who has no prison record, Brown responded: "No. I think the westside would be better off with somebody that’s like them."
Brown doesn’t deny his involvement in the drug trafficking conspiracy. He says he served 13 years of a 15 year sentence.
He says he also fled authorities for a year before US marshals hunted him down in New York and dragged him back to Atlanta for sentencing. Lessons learned, he tells voters now, as he seeks election to the Atlanta city council.