Former HHS boys' basketball coach Tom Brown encourages his team from the sidelines during the 2011 Cabool Holiday Tournament. Brown is seeking enough signatures to place his name on the ballot as an independent candidate in the 8th Congressional District race

A former Houston High School basketball coach attempting to place his name on the ballot as an independent candidate in the 8th Congressional District race will meet with the public Thursday in Houston.

Thomas W. Brown said his platform for office is “good paying jobs, medical care and government waste.” He will answer questions and gather signatures for support beginning at 6 p.m. at Emmett Kelly Park.

Brown is attempting to join three other candidates –– Steve Hodges, a Democrat, Bill Slantz, a Libertarian and Jason Smith, a Republican –– who have been chosen to represent their respective parties. Independent candidates can run in the June 4 special election if they gather signatures from registered voters equal to 2 percent of the total votes cast in the November 2012 congressional race –– just more than 6,000 –– and have those signatures certified with the secretary of state by March 30.

Brown coached the HHS boys’ basketball team during the 2011-’12 season before resigning. He currently lives in Fredericktown, where he took a job at a hardware store to fund his political interest.

“I just really feel like I could be the best person for this job and that my opinions on many issues match what voters are looking for,” he said.

Brown, who has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in administration, said gathering the required signatures has been challenging.

“I am currently discriminated against because I am an independent, because the congress made it a law that if you are an independent you have to get a petition to have your name placed on the ballot,” he said. “They want to limit your choices. If you don’t vote for me, that is fine. I would appreciate your signature to have my name put on the ballot. I feel strongly that I am the best person for this position.”

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