CONYERS -- Members of the Rockdale Republican Party weighed in Thursday against an opinion piece that drew criticism from Democrats in January.
Several members of the local GOP spoke out at the Rockdale Board of Elections and Voter Registration meeting Thursday, some calling for the resignation of member Jonny Brown, the Republican representative on the board. In November Brown wrote a guest editorial titled "The Little White Plane," which was posted on the news website of Edward C. Tracey at www.edwardctracey.com. In the posting, Brown compares Rockdale County to a "little white plane" that is painted with more black paint over time. Brown draws a direct comparison to changing demographics and the election of more black officials in Rockdale County and concludes the piece with the plane being hijacked by "left wing liberals" and crashing.
Diane Davis, who has been active in the local Republican Party, said she was distressed by the local party, partly because the party leadership had not spoken out against Brown's posting.
"I am one of those people who have not spoken out ... ." Davis said. "But I want you to know that I'm ashamed of myself for not speaking out. There has been nothing but silence from the leadership of my party. They have not spoken to the content of Mr. Brown's article.
"I personally don't want to be painted with the same brush Mr. Brown painted his plane with. I don't see myself that way, and I don't know anybody who knows me who sees me that way."
Ian Caraway, who said he was speaking only on behalf of himself, called Brown's actions "a scar on the county and the Republican Party."
He called on Brown to resign; failing that, he said the party should take appropriate action.
"Mr. Brown should resign, and if he refuses, his party should have the moral courage to challenge his presence on this board," he said.
Caraway said Republican candidates reached out to every constituency in Rockdale during the campaign season, which created a feeling of inclusiveness among voters. That goodwill could have continued, despite the elections losses, if not for "Mr. Brown's poor behavior."
"Mr. Brown has departed, in my view, from what we were campaigning for and what the candidates were campaigning for," Caraway said.
Shauna Jaynes also spoke out against Brown's commentary, saying that Brown should step down.
"I am a Republican in this county, and I am deeply hurt and saddened by the lack of respect shown by the leaders of the party when it comes to this letter," she said.
The Republican Party had no response Thursday other than its initial reaction in January stating that Brown's commentary was his personal opinion and that Brown was not speaking for the party.
Lynn Brown, who is a vice chairman in the Republican Party and Jonny Brown's wife, read the same statement from party chairman Don Williamson that she read at the Board of Elections meeting in January. "We do not subscribe to the group or herd mentality and maintain that if Mr. Brown wants to state a personal opinion, that is not speaking for the Republican Party in any manner, shape or form," the statement read in part.
At the January Board of Elections meeting, the Democratic Party also called for Brown's resignation. At that meeting, Doreen Williams, chairman of the local Democratic Party, issued a statement calling Brown's commentary racist and stating that Democratic elected officials are under the same obligation as Republicans to protect Rockdale County and will be held accountable by the public.
The Rockdale Board of Elections is made up of three members -- one nominated by the Republican Party, one by the Democratic Party and one named at-large by the two other members. Brown was named to the board in November 2011 after the Republican and Democratic members could not agree on the at-large member. Those two members, one of whom was Brown's wife, were removed from the board by then-Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation.
Jonny Brown was then named to the board by the Republicans, and Caycie Dix was selected by the Democratic Party. She later resigned to run for Probate Court judge. The Democrats replaced her with Karen James. William Todd now serves as the at-large member of the board.