Jesse Brinson is running for local office. Specifically, for Kansas’ Douglas County Commission.
I got the opportunity to speak with Jesse about all of this. I’ll be the first to say that his reasons for running are very unique, and he sets a great example for all of us.
And my goal with this article is not to just put out a political piece for Jesse. It is to showcase a solid Christian man running for local political office. And this example can inspire us all to do great things for God.
You should know that neither The Borough nor I as the author of this piece are formally endorsing Jesse Brinson as a candidate. And we did not receive compensation of any kind for the writing of this article. I just happen to believe in the reasons that Jesse is running, as they are consistent with Scripture. I’m not even in his jurisdiction to vote for him anyway.
And with that disclaimer out of the way…
A Little about Jesse
Jesse Brinson is an African-American man from Texas. During his time as a youth, he had fallen into gang culture and drug dealing.
When he came to the University of Kansas for a football scholarship, campus ministers at a local church had reached out to him. It was at that point that his life was completely changed by Jesus, and he became a new man.
Since then, Jesse has become very active in his church, through their student ministry, Called to Greatness. He had grown up in a single-parent home, which caused a strong drive in him to mentor younger men. Now, he is the youth pastor working with high school students. Additionally, he is an elder at his church.
As far as the community at large, Jesse continues to make it one of his top priorities. He told me of his strategy in city involvement: Connect and serve. He builds relationships with people wherever he can and finds ways to serve.
For example, he participates in PTO, Neighborhood watch, coaching sports teams, and tutoring and mentoring. All the while, his goal is to take care of his community through service.
As far as home-life goes, he is nothing short of a family man. He’s married, and has 3 biological children. He is also extremely hospitable, willing to use his home to serve God, as there are 4 foster boys and a niece who live with them.Jesse Brinson is nothing short of a family man. #faith #family Click To Tweet
Why He’s Running for Local Office
When I asked Jesse why he is running for county commission, he had a few different answers.
First of all, as someone who has been very involved in the community for 12 years, he viewed politics as “just the next step”.
But from a church leadership perspective, he said this:
“A pastor looks at what God provides as a flock. And then that pastor brings in a network and resources to take care of them. At first, I was considering planting a church in East Lawrence in my neighborhood, but as I saw all the needs around me, and I realized I wanted to bring that network and resources to an even larger community – the county.”
Jesse views his complex adolescent history with gangs and drugs as a positive now that that part of his life has been over for almost three decades. It allows him to understand why teens misbehave and fall into the traps of crime.
He stated very matter-of-fact-ly to me, “I believe I can help people, because I’ve been criminal-minded in my past. I was the one who felt like I had been wronged by the system. And that experience will help me minister to those people now.”
His primary issue which he wants to address in his county has to do with a jail expansion which would cost $40 million ($30 million for the jail, and $8-$10 million for the mental health facility annex). Through his special understanding of the psyche of underprivileged and delinquent youths, he believes this would be a waste.
Jesse’s mantra is that we have to look at people instead of projects.
Because of the jail expansion proposal, he says that we ought to find better alternatives (Jesse listed 5 or 6 scientifically-researched possibilities off the top of his head for me) that would be more economic for the county and will ultimately be more helpful to the people who would traditionally just be locked up.
But whether you agree or disagree with him about that county’s jail expansion, Jesse says, “I believe I can bring about a more collaborative and constant dialogue that will end in solutions for the problems for the county.” He wants to listen to the people and truly represent them.
And as far as the jail expansion goes, an organization called Justice Matters, has identified this issue about mental health and the jail expansion as a primary concern for citizens in Jesse’s county. So it’s not just a pet project for him, but it is his desire to meet the needs of the people.
One more quote from him, which reflects his entire outlook on running for local office:
Jesse Brinson, a man after God's own heart. #faith #politics Click To Tweet
“If I can pursue God’s wisdom, following the principles He’s provided in Scripture, then we can navigate those very complex problems and do things how God would want them.
I would show people a different side of Christians. A man I met said that Christianity was an oppressive movement, and he was right – it has been at different times in history.
But I will not be oppressive as a witness for God. I want to provide resources for my community and listen to their needs.”
Why Believers Should Run for Local Office
It’s NOT to overrun politics with Christians so every other view gets stomped out!
The reason Jesse is such a good example is because of his reasons for running. If I were to sum them up myself, it would be a list like this:
- He wants to serve the community more comprehensively than he’s been doing for the past 12 years.
- He wants to solve a specific problem which is near and dear to his heart, which is also very important to the community.
- He wants to bring in God’s principles of government. Not in a weird, theocratic way, but in the way of true justice, compassion for the needy, and love for all.
- He wants to show the community the side of Christianity which is neither self-righteous nor oppressive.
And so you see, all these reasons for running are not just good for Jesse and his county. They should be the goals of all Christians in politics at all times.
In fact, they should even be all Christians’ goals, whether they are in civic leadership or not.
But as leader-types in our churches decide to run for local office, it is so important to have the same kinds of aspirations which Jesse Brinson does – to serve and to honor God. To love your neighbor.
If you are a Christian, those are the true purposes of politics.
If you have a calling to serve God through local office (or any level of office), then you must do it, and it must be for the right reasons. If you don’t do it, someone else will, and they may or may not have the community’s good in their heart.
Please, take a leap of faith, and serve God and serve your community.
Jesse Brinson is running for a seat on the 2nd District Douglas County Commission in Kansas. If you are a voter in that jurisdiction, Jesse asks only a few simple things:
- Remember that the vote will take place on the same day as the presidential election, on the same ballot.
- Be aware that so many people neglect to vote for these local races, simply because they are not familiar with anything on the ballot outside of federal contests. County Commission voting will be at the bottom of the ballot.
- Remember that you have a choice.
Also published on Medium.