March 1, 2014
“I can always look back to DeKalb County and say it did right by me and I did right by them.”
Sheriff Brown bids farewell to colleagues, county workers By Ken Watts
DeKalb Sheriff Thomas Brown bid an emotional farewell to longtime colleagues and county employees on Feb. 26 as the Board of Commissioners recognized his nearly 14 years in the office in a proclamation ceremony. Brown, who spent 29 years in DeKalb government, said the county has been good for him. “It’s been a good ride for me,” he said, his voice breaking. “I don’t know where God is gonna take me, but wherever he does, I’m gonna be in a good place either doing the people’s work or playing with that grandson of mine.” Surrounded by his command staff and senior administrators in the county’s Maloof Auditorium before the board’s monthly meeting, Brown said he’s satisfied that he leaves the Sheriff ’s Office in better shape than he found it in 2001 when he was appointed to the office after the assassination of Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown, who was no relation to him. Brown stepped down on Feb. 28 with more than two years left on his term. He is running for the 4th District congressional seat held by incumbent Democrat Hank Johnson. Qualifying for the May 20 primary takes place March 3-7. So far, TomBrownForCongress.com says
Ken Watts / CrossRoadsNews
Thomas Brown, who was scheduled to step down as DeKalb sheriff on Feb. 28 to run for Congress, was recognized by the Board of Commissioners on Feb. 26 for his service.
he has raised $130,000 in donations. In his remarks Tuesday to a crowd of admirers in Maloof Auditorium, Brown fondly recalled his tenure as sheriff. He said the office, under his administration, has been a good steward of the taxpayers’ money. “We improved security and spent money to upgrade our computer network,” he said. “We put video systems throughout the jail
and courthouse so that we can make sure that our employees are protected. We did that without spending one dime of the taxpayer fund. We did it with confiscated drug money.” One by one, commissioners and interim CEO Lee May praised Brown’s leadership. “You took chaos and made it calm,” said the board’s presiding officer, Larry Johnson,
alluding to Brown’s successful efforts to modernize and reform operations and root out corruption. The board’s proclamation noted that under Brown, the Sheriff’s Office “has earned and maintained accreditations from the nation’s three leading law enforcement rating groups, the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) and the American Correctional Association (ACA).” District 6 Commissioner Kathie Gannon said Brown has shaped the county in many ways. “Tom Brown’s name will be synonymous with DeKalb County for a long time to come,” she said. Brown came to DeKalb in 1985 as fire chief. Four years later, the county’s first CEO, Manuel Maloof, appointed him public safety director, a post Brown held for 11 years before becoming sheriff. He said he leaves office with mixed feelings. “You reflect on your career and everything that you’ve done. And you want to think that you’ve always done the right thing even though there has been adversity at times. But it’s a ride that I would not exchange for anything in the world,” he said. “No matter what happens, I can always look back to DeKalb County and say it did right by me and I did right by them.”
Supporters laud Congressman’s work ethic, service, integrity JOHNSON,
of Salem Bible Church, said many people in is talking and paying. “I am paying my maximum,” he said, the community kept their homes through outwork you and no one is going to outwork the darkness of the recession because of waving his check in the air. “Here’s my me. I am with you, brother.” $2,000. Johnson. The Rev. Jasper Williams, senior pastor Williams said Johnson has worked hard He said Johnson “is our man” and that he for the community. “Let’s get up, step up, pep up and do all that we can do to let him retain this seat that he has truly earned,” hr said. Kendal Hubbard of Lithonia did not speak from the podium, but she scribbled a note on the wall to Johnson. “Let’s take it again,” she wrote. “Keep up the great work.” Hubbard said she is voting again for Johnson because the scholarships and service appointments he has given the kids. “These are great opportunities for students,” she said. “He is a congressman who is interested in children.” When he took the microphone, Johnson said that he recognizes that the issues of jobs and the economy are at the forefront of the minds of his district’s residents. “And in response, I have delivered,” he said. “Since 2009, I have helped deliver more than $250 million in federal funds to District 4 for jobs creation. Remaining true to my word of Taking Care of Home First, my office has helped more than 15,000 constituents DeKalb County wants your input on its first economic secure more than $32 million in federal development strategic plan. Working together, we can benefits to which they were entitled. ” improve the economic landscape and foster capital Linda Mayhand of Stone Mountain said she likes Johnson’s passion for veterans, small investment and job creation. business and the economy.” “I think he will continually be great in representing us,” said Mayhand who owns Trinity Industrial Supplies. Hank Thomas, one of only three remaining Freedom Riders, praised Johnson for working to get them congressional recognition. “Every year, celebrities, football players, basketball players go to the White House to get recognized but we like to think that we did a few things 53 years ago,” he said. “Just a few months ago I brought this problem to Hank Johnson. Without missing a beat, he said I am going to introduce a bill.” He said Johnson is a man who keeps his word. “This is what impressed me the most,” he said. “He told us that he would do it and DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May and the Board of Commissioners he is doing it.” State Sen. Ronald Ramsey led the room in a “Fired up and ready to go” chant and told from page
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the supporters to stand with Johnson. “Let him go back and finish the job,” he said. When he was first elected to Senate District 43 in 2006, Ramsey said the first thing he did was call his congressman. “I said we need to meet to talk about transportation, we need to talk about education,” he said. “We spoke and the dialogue continues. ” Heather Fenton, a Decatur wife, mother and president of New Power, a political action committee working to put women into public office, said Johnson stands up for women. “When other Congress people wanted to water down the Violence Against Women Act, he was there fighting for women,” she said. “He has been a steadfast supporter of legislation that prohibits employment discrimination against women.” On her trips to the nation’s Capitol, Fenton said that she came to learn that in Washington Johnson is enormously respected. “He is highly regarded, and he is liked,” she said. “I like him and I am going to work for him and I am going to vote for him.” Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers, said Johnson had integrity. “He is solid as a rock,” she said. “His word is his bond. He stands for quality effective public education, not under cute names that is misleading people today.” Richard Barclay, senior pastor of Hillcrest Church of Christ in Decatur, said he took great pride in seeing Johnson disembark Air Force One with Obama on trips to Savannah and Atlanta. “You have always supported us in what we have to do,” he told Johnson. “In the words of the little guys on the street, ‘We got your back.’” Former DeKalb School Board member Zepora Roberts said Johnson “ain’t scared of anything” and has done an exceptional job representing the best interest of the district. “When other people say we need a change, I just wonder what on earth are they going to change,” she said. “If you look at Hank Johnson’s record, I ask of the other opponents, ‘What would you have done differently?’” See Page 4 for excerpts of U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson’s speech.