On the Curbs: Sue Brown reminisces of long-time career, which dates back to the ’80s

Along with former councilmember Steve Cohn, District Director Sue Brown, shown here, leaves city hall after 20 years. Photo courtesy

Along with former councilmember Steve Cohn, District Director Sue Brown, shown here, leaves city hall after 20 years. Photo courtesy

As we say our goodbyes and honor the many achievements of District 3 City Councilman Steve Cohn, the East Sacramento News pauses to also acknowledge the charming Sue Brown, who for years has served as his district director.

Sue is a warm familiar presence in our community, and has been for a very long time. She’s been in Cohn’s office ever since he was elected 20 years ago in 1994. But her career in public service predates even his election.

It was an honor when Sue took the time to have coffee, chat, and provide some reflections regarding her 24-and-a-half years of service, all this in the middle of her holidays, and during a time of great transition in her office.

Sue’s career started back in the 1980s when she moved to Sacramento from the Bay Area with her husband Randy who was attending UC Davis. Randy began working for the late Senator Robert G. Beverly, a Manhattan Beach Republican who represented the South Bay in the state Senate for 20 years.

At the time of Randy’s initial career, the Senator was working with Josh Pane. Pane was elected to Sacramento City Council in 1989 and hired Sue in that year. Pane’s District Director eventually left and Sue was promoted to the position in 1993. Cohn was elected in 1994.

As is often the case during times of transition, the newly elected official will prefer to put people into their staff positions that he or she is already comfortable working with, but Sue Brown’s career trajectory is an exception to this regularity.

Cohn choose to offer Sue a position and eventually Sue became his District Director. She describes her responsibilities as all encompassing. They entailed sitting down and talking policy and vision directly with Cohn, or tending to the day-to-day work with constituents, neighborhood associations, business associations and project management. Cohn put it this way: “There is no way that I could have done my job as City Councilman without Sue Brown running the office.” He added: “While I worked full-time at SMUD, Sue Brown handled the day-to-day district office duties, freeing me up to focus on the land use, transportation, public safety and environmental issues that I cared passionately about and to serve in leadership positions on regional boards dealing with rail and transit, regional planning, the arts, libraries, flood control and other important issues.”

Projects and events that Sue has been largely involved with include Screen on the Green, Pops in the Park, designing the Welcome to East Sacramento signs, the Rebuild McKinley Park Playground efforts, concerts, events, ribbon cuttings, park openings, and lots of writing and putting together newsletters.

As the Councilman’s term comes to an end, Sue says that right now he has the opportunity to take a little step back and figure out what to do next. Transportation has been a huge priority for Steve, and Sue believes that he has a love and passion for that. She states confidently, “I don’t think we have seen the last of Steve. He’ll find something to do to make a difference.”

When asked what she would describe as her biggest passion while serving as Deputy Director for so many years she says, “You know I think my most enjoyable moments have been partnering with neighborhood people to get things done, trying to find that balance between the neighbors and the businesses. For instance, in Midtown we worked really hard with everyone so the homeowners could have the quality of life they valued, and the businesses could continue to thrive.”

Sue is also at a point where she is taking a step back to consider her future. She states, “For so many years my focus was on working and raising my kids so I did not have a lot of time for outside interests. So that’s one thing I need to do too is figure out what things I can do for fun.”

Many know that Sue and her husband are huge San Francisco Giants fans and often go to see the games. Perhaps others do not know that for some time now Sue and Randy have been playing bocce ball at East Portal Park. She laughs while making the point that this is pretty much for socializing more than anything and, “our team would show up for games but never practiced.”

Also, this past year she decided to get a real estate license. Although she is not yet sure what direction she will take with that, she is considering commercial property management. She pauses and says, “I think I am taking that step back to figure it out. And I would like to spend some more time with my parents in San Francisco who still live in the same house I grew up in.”

She and Randy have two grown daughters who attended or are attending college in Chico. Their oldest daughter is 23 years old, and while in school, worked in the financial aid department full time. She just recently decided it may be a time to leave the beautiful town. She lives now in San Rafael, does project management for a large firm, and loves it. Their other daughter graduates in May from Chico and wants to go into nursing. She works two jobs and stays busy with her sorority.

At their home the Brown’s have one pet. Jake is a German Wirehaired Pointer, a pheasant hunting dog, who is 8 and getting a bit slower. He is also described as being “very spoiled” and having separation anxiety. The neighbor kids come over to sleep in the house when they leave, and Jake has his own special bed he sleeps in.

Over Thanksgiving Sue and Randy did the Run to Feed the Hungry and then went to San Ramon to celebrate with her brother and his wife who are both retired San Francisco police officers.

As for final reflections and parting thoughts Sue says, “Its bittersweet. I loved my job for many years. I feel like just having been a small part of all that Steve has been able to accomplish, I’m very proud of that. But I’m excited for the future. I feel like we are leaving on a high note.”

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