Off Limits

Good grief

Of the nine candidates running for the District 6 city council spot recently vacated by Susan Casey, Charlie Brown probably has the best name recognition. Unlike the browbeaten cartoon character, however, this Charlie Brown is no blockhead: A former teacher, he served for two years in the mid-1980s in the state House of Representatives, has been involved with several school bond campaigns and runs his own communications business.

But the catchy handle is no public-relations trick. "That's my name; it's what I'm called," Brown says. "My dad had the same name -- I'm a Jr. I come by it honestly. I used 'Charles' when I was in the legislature, but I didn't like it -- it sounds too formal." The key to the name, he stresses, "is to use it, but not abuse it."

So does this make Charlie Brown a good man? Not necessarily. After Brown sent out a few postcards announcing his candidacy, complete with the slogan "Charlie Brown: He's a good man who will do a great job," a few members of his campaign committee worried that the adage -- despite its well-known musical origins -- might offend some voters. Why? "Some said I couldn't use the word 'man,'" Brown laughs. "With the ratio on city council being ten to three, with ten women, it makes it more sensitive."

Tack on the fact that the last two people to hold the District 6 job -- Casey and Mary DeGroot -- are women, and that seven of the nine candidates running right now are women, and Brown might be dealing with a real political football, one that could be yanked away at the last minute. (For the record, the other candidates are Cynthia Barnes, Diane Barrett, Miles Davies, Sue Edwards, Sharon Elfenbein, Anita Gail, Peggy Lehmann, Lynn Pressnall.) But since he's already ruled out heading to Trinidad for a sex-change operation, as one campaign worker suggested, he's not about to substitute Peppermint Patty for "Charlie."

Instead, the candidate simply removed the offending slogan from his brochure -- something he says he'd planned to do later in the campaign, anyway. (It's still on Brown's Web site, however.)

So is Charlie Brown still Charlie Brown, even if he's not a good man? Probably. Lucy put it best: "Charlie Brown, of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you are the Charlie Browniest."

 
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