Ruth Brown announced Jan. 16 that she will seek a fifth term on the Hillsdale County Board of Commissioners, representing the 1st District. Using the campaign slogan “Retain Ruth for Results,” she said she is proud of what she has accomplished for her constituents and hopes to continue serving them with dedication.
Brown said she is seeking a fifth term because of positive feedback she has received from her colleagues and constituents. She said she is proud of what she has accomplished for Hilldale residents, but knows there is still work to do.
“What drives me is my constituents,” she said. “As long as I have a passion for my constituents and can do the job, I want to keep going.”
For the second time, Brown faces a contender for the office. In 2016, she defeated Sam Nutter, who currently serves as the City of Hillsdale’s planning commissioner. Now Doug Ingles, former mayor of Hillsdale, challenges Brown.
Brown and Ingles both emphasize their considerable experience in public service and their passion for their constituents. Both Republican candidates, they appreciate the importance of managing the county budget responsibly.
“It’s a big election. The community is changing in great ways,” said Ingles, owner of Stadium Roller Rink. “What it comes down to is, voters will have to decide who’s going to do a better job.”
Hillsdale Mayor Adam Stockford, who is running for the 58th District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives, agreed that the results of the Aug. 4 primary elections will be interesting.
“It’s exciting to see so many seats being contested,” he said. “However the races turn out, we’ll have better representatives, because we’re all forced to do better when we have to compete,” he said.
Although she hopes her past successes will be an advantage to her as she campaigns, Brown said she knows she must continue working hard for the people of Hillsdale.
“I’m confident, but not complacent,” she said. “I don’t sit back, I fight back.”
Born in the Chicago area, Brown moved to Hillsdale as a girl and graduated from Hillsdale High School. Her father taught history at Hillsdale College, and she said she has always believed in what the college stands for.
After graduating from Eastern Michigan University, she taught for nine years before working at a travel agency in Jackson. Since 2006, she has operated her own travel agency from home.
Brown served for a time as the Great Lakes regional director of the American Association of University Women, a non-profit organization that promotes women’s equality. While there, she helped coordinate an initiative called “Women in Politics,” which encouraged women to participate in politics.
“Women should have a seat at the table when decisions are made because these decisions impact their finances and futures,” Brown said.
When a Ward 2 city council seat opened up in 2009, Brown decided to “put [her] money where [her] mouth was.” She ran unopposed, and was elected to the Hillsdale City Council. After serving two terms on the city council, she was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2013, on which she has since served four terms.
In her past terms, she helped improve the county offices by moving them from the Courthouse Annex to the former Hillsdale Daily News’ building, which she said has increased employee morale and productivity. She also co-founded the Hillsdale County Suicide Prevention Coalition.
Brown said she considers economic development and drug abuse to be the biggest challenges to Hillsdale County.
“Everything with a person starts with a job,” she said, and explained that drug users “need a helping hand up and out.”
She said she plans to attract employers that will pay a “living wage” to ensure that Hillsdale County residents have access to jobs that will support the best quality of life.
In addition, she hopes to help former drug addicts become responsible citizens by providing them access to job training and counseling.
“I’m not a good old boy,” she said. “I’m just a hometown girl who grew up in Hillsdale and cares about the place, and I know how to get results around here.”