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Posted: October 24, 2013 10:00 p.m.

Brown announces run for Congress

DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown is mounting a 2014 Democratic primary challenge to incumbent Congressman Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, saying the four-term representative has become complacent and only follows the Democratic Party line instead of introducing his own legislation.

Brown announced his candidacy on the Covington square, the last of four stops at major cities — Decatur, Lilburn and Conyers being the other three — in Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes the western half of Newton County.

Brown became DeKalb County sheriff in 2000, following the assassination of the sheriff-elect. Prior to being sheriff, Brown served as the county’s public safety director for more than a decade and was the county’s fire chief for four years.

"We believe he (Johnson) has gotten complacent," Brown told The News after Wednesday’s announcement. "It may be easy to do because of the present climate in Washington. But nothing is getting done, and we need someone who is and will be a change-maker, and not just somebody who is going to be part of the change taking place.

"No one is sponsoring legislation,’’ Brown said. "They’re just signing onto legislation when the Democratic Party puts it in front of them."

Brown said the Fourth District has a lot to offer the country in terms of the perspective of its diverse population and rich heritage.

"The district needs to be at the forefront of moving America’s agenda," Brown told a small crowd gathered on the square. "I want to be that representative."

Brown said he feels strongly about education and preparing students for the technologically dependent jobs of the future.

"(Students) need to be prepared to build and design machines," Brown said, adding that students must be able to go beyond simply operating machinery as in years past. He also said the nation needs a business climate that promotes the creation of private jobs, particularly at small and medium-sized businesses. He also cautioned against interfering in foreign conflicts, saying such actions remove resources from American infrastructure, education and even veterans benefits.

Brown said he believes he can defeat Johnson because people are ready for change and because the Fourth District has never been a seat with long seniority. He noted that the seat has had seven congressmen since 1975, with one representative serving 10 years — Democrat Elliot Levitas — and one representative serving eight years across two stints — Cynthia McKinney. Johnson first took office in January 2007. He was DeKalb County magistrate judge for 12 years and a county commissioner for five years. He was also a practicing lawyer for 27 years. He is a member of House Armed Services and Judiciary committees.

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