Alvin Brown, mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, assumed his position last July after winning by a mere 1,648 votes. By securing his position in the closest mayoral race in the city’s history, Brown became the first black mayor of Jacksonville and the first Democratic mayor of the city since Ed Austin in 1991.

Perhaps it was his professional experience that won voters over. Brown is originally from South Carolina, but went to college in Jacksonville, and earned his MBA there. Before the election he was the executive in residence at Jacksonville University’s business school. Brown was also the executive director of the Bush/Clinton Katrina Interfaith Fund, and a senior member of the Clinton-Gore administration.

Brown’s main vision in his mayoral campaign was to “take Jacksonville to the next level.” His extensive business and political experience is evidence that he has the acumen to achieve that goal.

Alvin Brown is making history as … the first black mayor of Jacksonville. During the campaign Brown showed that he has crossover appeal by winning the financial support of well-known Republican fundraiser Peter Rummell and others in the GOP camp to his side. That appeal led to his narrow victory, despite being seen initially as the underdog.

What’s next for Alvin?

Brown recently signed legislation for the beginning phases of his proposed government reorganization, which includes the creation of a new department focused on economic development for the city. Brown said economic development is his first priority in the first half of this year.

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A little-known fact about Jacksonville …

Jacksonville, a very conservative city, is the largest city by area in the continental U.S.

For more information about Jacksonville, click here.

theGrio: What’s next in this chapter of your life?

Alvin Brown: I will continue to take Jacksonville to the next level. I plan to do that by supporting entrepreneurs, as I believe that small business is the backbone of the American economy. Education is also extremely important to Jacksonville’s future and the city’s success. That is why I named this city’s first education commissioner to serve as a liaison between the mayor’s office and our public and private schools.

What’s a fact about you that many people don’t know?

I love the outdoors and all sorts of outdoor activities. One of my passions right now is kayaking. Jacksonville is the ideal location for kayaking. I recently led the charge to designate 12 new park sites for kayakers, canoeists, paddle boarders, sail boarders and other water enthusiasts to access the St. Johns River and its tributaries. With the addition of these sites, Jacksonville now has 44 public launch sites for residents and visitors to enjoy this city’s natural beauty.

What’s your favorite quote?

My favorite quote comes from the Bible. It is Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Where do you get your inspiration?

I draw inspiration from my grandmother, mother and my pastor, H. T. Rhim.

Who are/were your mentors?

The same people who inspired me and helped me get to where I am today — my grandmother, mother and pastor — are also my mentors. I continue to draw strength from them and they are tremendous influences in my life.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to achieve their dreams?

I would tell them that they must remember the “Three Ps.” You must be passionate about your dream. You have to know your purpose in life. When you realize your purpose, you have to know that the power you have to succeed comes from God. Knowing that will give you the foundation and strong work ethic needed to achieve your dreams.