Robersonville Mayor Tina Michelle Brown Fights for Its Future – GDN Exclusiveby By Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer July 13, 2020
Robersonville Mayor Tina Michelle Brown, beyond her profound belief in GOD, has a guiding life principle – “Aim to inspire.”
Given the impressive work ethic of this 50-year-old New Jersey native, there is little question that she leads the northeastern North Carolina town of officially, over 1400 by example.
“I’ve just always wanted to be involved,” Mayor Brown told GDN during a recent telephone interview. “I always wanted to be in a position to help people.”
According to Mayor Brown’s bio, among her other volunteer and community service activities, “..she serves on the Board of Directors for Churches Outreach Network and The Interfaith Clergy of Pitt/Martin Counties and is also an active member of the Martin County Branch NAACP. She has developed connections over the years through her volunteerism from New Jersey to North Carolina, holding a variety of positions such as Community Outreach Coordinator, Breast Health Facilitator, and Fundraising Chair. Her experience as a canvasser and voters data entry for voter’s registration during the 2016 and 2018 elections with North Carolina League of Conservation Voters and Civic engagement, broaden her curiosity for politics.”
It was November 2019 when Tina M. Brown made history, becoming the first African American in Robersonville’s 148-year history to be elected mayor. Today African Americans comprises approximately 65% of the population and is governed by a five-member town board.
There are just 12 miles along US-64 East that separates the Martin County 1.2 square mile town from its largest neighbor, Williamston. Once a thriving rural town, Robersonville today is fighting for its economic survival, with just three businesses downtown, and very little else to attract new families and promote growth.
Most residents are retired elderly on fixed incomes. There are some younger families, but because the town “…is not in the best shape…” Mayor Brown says, many young families have moved away to Williamston or Greenville for more opportunities.
One of her top priorities since unseating a 28-year incumbent last year to win her first four-year term, is to finally have a audit done on Robersonville’s finances so that she and the town board can make informed decisions about available revenue versus what needs to be spent to bring more growth to the area.
Apparently, the town was not conducting an annual audit in the previous administration as required, leaving Mayor Brown and the town council mostly in the dark about what is actually in the bank.
“We definitely want to keep our families here, especially young families,” Mayor Brown told GDN, adding that given Robersonville’s strategic location near Greenville, attracting a hotel is on the priority list.
As indicated earlier, Brown is not a North Carolina native, and in fact, has only been living in the state since 2012. She left a career in women’s health and community service in New Brunswick, N.J. where she was raised, and moved to Robersonville then to help take care of her parents, Milton and Mary Wiggins, who had retired from up north to her father’s hometown.
Having decided to make Robersonville her new home, Brown eventually became intimately involved with the community, and was soon seen as becoming indispensable.
“[Tina M. Brown] is a member of Willow Chapel Missionary Baptist Church where she serves on the Pastors Aide Committee,” her campaign bio says. “Tina is respected by many and known for her volunteerism and helping others in her community. She began volunteering at the Faith Community Outreach Inc. [FCO] food pantry and worked her way up the ranks to currently [serving as] the Executive Director…. serving approximately 300 people on a weekly basis. She has implemented various programs for the FCO and other organizations outside of the county and has also been a successful grant writer and awarded over $200,000 worth of grant monies throughout the years. She has played a vital part in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program distribution in Martin County to senior citizens in 2017.”
“In 2016 the Faith Community Outreach Board of Directors held an appreciation dinner in her honor for her “Selfless giving and going above and beyond for others.” And in 2017 She was the recipient of the Martin County Chambers of Commerce “2017 Citizen of the Year” and the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award in January 2020.”
But right now, being mayor of Robersonville is the challenge, she says.
“I want to see where the needs are,” Mayor Brown says.
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