Letter to the Editor: Moral Courage (Feb. 14, 2013)
Our Thoughts; Time to step up by stepping down (Feb. 8, 2013)
Letter to the Editor: No place for racial divisiveness (Jan. 25, 2013)
Our Thoughts: Bigotry (Jan. 19, 2013)
Calls for resignation at elections board after editorial (Jan. 18, 2013)
There were more calls for the resignation of Republican-appointed Board of Elections member Jonny Brown at Thursday's meeting, but this time the calls came from local Republicans.
Last month, a number of local residents, self-professed Democrats and independents, spoke during public comments to denounce the guest editorial "Little White Plane," written by Jonny Brown on a local website, edwardctracey.com (you can read the text of it by clicking here.)
Diane Davis, who volunteered extensively for the Rockdale GOP during election season, said "I am distressed with my local Republican party. One of the reasons is a line in the editorial this past weekend in the Rockdale News - 'What troubles us most has been the public non-action by many community leaders and the leadership of the Rockdale GOP which appointed Mr. Brown to his public position.'"
"I am ashmed of myself for not speaking out," said Davis. She said there had not been a opportunity to speak out during local Rockdale GOP meetings because public comment times have not been held.
"There’s been nothing but dead silence from the leadership in my party. They have not spoken to the content of Mr. Brown’s story. Denouncing the content is what I believe we need to do... What was done with that story may have been legal, but whether or not it was right is what I question."
Ian Caraway, who also submitted a Letter to the Editor, spoke as a private citizen. "The only official Republican response was a flippant statement denying the obvious: this story is racist." He said goodwill had been generated by Republican candidate campaigns that reached out to a broad range of neighborhoods and communities. "This is especially tragic for the pastors, civic leaders, business owners and everyday citizens in the African American community who endorsed a Republican candidate. They have been left to dry. They were bold and brave to support someone of a different party and now we've abandoned them."
Caraway said to resolve the situation, "Each of us, all of us, to reexamine how we think, talk and act regarding our differences. And... Mr. Brown should resign. If he refuses, his party should have the moral courage to challenge his continued representation on this board. his presence today is a scar of shame on our county and on our Republican Party."
Local resident Shauna Jaynes, 24, said "I am a Republican in this county. I am deeply hurt and saddened by the lack of respect shown by the leaders of the party when it comes to this letter." It was not representative of her beliefs nor of the beliefs of other Republicans she knew, said Jaynes. "It is hurtful to any chances Republicans have in the future of running. Mr. Brown should step down."
Resident Bob Bala passed on the chance to make a public comment but said later that he would have defended Jonny Brown had he known there would be critical comments. He endorsed leaving the issue alone and moving on.
Lynn Brown, Jonny’s wife, a vice president of the Rockdale Republican Party and a former member of the elections board, gave a statement on behalf of Rockdale Republican Party Chairman Don Williamson. "He's authorized me to offer to the members of the public this message. It is the same message sent last month.
"Jonny Brown has a right to a personal opinion as an individual and will continue to do so until Obama signs another executive order taking that away as well.
To everyone that has made the same remarks that Mr. Brown should resign, you seem to have the uncanny ability to make the association that Jonny Brown is speaking for the Republican Party. Some have gone as far to state that this is a Republican Party problem. 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."
Later, when Don Williamson arrived after the meeting concluded, he reiterated the points in the statement that Lynn Brown had read. The "Little White Plane" was separate from Brown's work as a Rockdale GOP member and elections board member, said Williamson. He pointed out that in Brown's activities as an elections board member, he answered to the elections board, not to the Rockdale GOP.
About 13 people attended Thursday's meeting, which was taped by the county's Channel 23. The audience consisted of mostly conservative residents. No Democrats were in attendance until the second half of the meeting. Democratically-appointed elections board member Karen James came during executive session and the second half.