CONYERS — An opinion piece written by Rockdale Board of Elections and Voter Registration member Jonny Brown has caused concern among some members of the community and prompted the Rockdale Democratic Party to call for his resignation.
Brown, who is the BOE member appointed by the Rockdale Republican Party, wrote the editorial “The Little White Plane,” which is essentially a metaphor for the Rockdale community, in November. It was posted on the website of Edward C. Tracey at www.edwardctracey.com. In the editorial, 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 his editorial with the plane being hijacked by “left wing liberals” and crashing.
Doreen Williams, chairman of the Rockdale Democratic Party, issued a statement calling for Brown’s resignation at the Board of Elections meeting Thursday afternoon, calling the commentary racial 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. Williams was not able to attend the meeting and her statement was read by a representative.
Several other residents also spoke out about the commentary and asked that Brown step down or that the Board of Elections vote to remove him. If that vote were taken, it would have to be ratified by a Superior Court judge.
Don Williamson, chairman of the Rockdale Republican Party, said Brown’s editorial is his personal opinion and does not reflect the position of the Rockdale Republicans.
In a written response to Williams’ request that Brown step down, which was read at the meeting by Brown’s wife, Lynn Brown, Williamson wrote that “Jonny Brown has a right to a personal opinion as an individual and will continue to do so until (President Barack) Obama signs another Executive Order taking that away as well.”
In addition, Williamson emphasized that Brown is not speaking for the Republican Party.
“Some have gone as far to state that this is a Republican Party problem,” wrote Williamson. “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.”
Josie Dean, founder of the Rockdale Think Tank and a community activist who was at the BOE meeting Thursday, said she didn’t call for Brown’s resignation but she does believe that Brown’s comments reflect negatively on the Republican Party. When none of the Republicans denounced Brown’s comments, it gave the appearance that they were in agreement, she said.
“Some things he just can’t say,” Dean said. “Freedom of speech is one thing, but when you make derogatory statements like that, it causes confusion.”
Brown did not respond to requests for his resignation Thursday. He could not be reached for comment by press time Monday.
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, Lynn Brown, 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.
Todd said at Thursday’s meeting that his objective as the at-large member of the BOE is to be fair and impartial. He declined to make any public comments on the calls for Brown’s resignation.