Fayette County Commission Steve Brown is about to end his time of service in elected office. A former Peachtree City mayor and two-term commissioner, Brown at the Dec. 13 commission meeting provided both comments and concerns at his last official meeting.
“I state as mere fact, not as a boast, that I have notably guided the most meaningful attempts at allowing citizens to have active participation in government and government meetings. In both jurisdictions where I have governed, there has been an open floor to citizens, allowing public speech on all agenda items with no time limitations. That is almost unheard of in political settings at any level,” Brown said.
Continuing, Brown said, “I have also been an outspoken advocate for the personal liberty of all citizens, not just some people who tend to agree with my views. There is no shame in my heart or mind for fervently defending free speech and expression as it is the cornerstone of our liberty.
“There is a movement afoot to restrict speech in the United States. It is even happening in Fayette County. People or groups who claim to be offended by someone’s speech are now claiming that they should be able to prohibit such speech, at the end of the government’s gun, if necessary.”
Brown also addressed what he said are insincere calls for the censorship freedom of expression.
“I am saddened when some Fayette citizens demand the formation of a committee to decide who or what organization can express themselves in the public county meetings, as long as they control the committee and, of course, only their sense of what is offensive is to count. Such oppressive and dictatorial proposals erode the core of what makes our nation the finest place to live in the world,” said Brown.
“With urgency, I implore all of our citizens to stand and critically defend everyone’s right to free expression. The radical left is attempting to dismantle freedom of expression, claiming that an offensive comment even by the smallest of gestures, referred to as microaggressions, should not be allowed and should be interpreted as violence, which calls for the use of government force or violent ‘self-defense’ actions to halt the perceived offensive expression,” Brown said.
Chairman Eric Maxwell near the end of the Dec. 13 commission meeting presented Brown with a plaque from the commission.
“I’ve enjoyed working with you guys. It’s been a pleasure,” Brown said. “We’re not supposed to agree on everything, and there’s no rule that says we have to agree on everything. But I think we’ve created some openness. And we’ve figured out ways to work together, to make things happen and to find common ground. That’s important. That’s what makes government work. So I appreciate all the efforts of my colleagues and staff, and especially the citizens who come to the meetings regularly, email us, call us and find us in the grocery store.”
Brown began his time in office in Peachtree City, where he served as mayor from 2002-2005.
Representing District 3, Brown was elected to the Fayette County Commission in 2010, now having completed two terms. He served as Chairman during 2013-2014. Brown announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election in keeping with his promise of observing term limits.
Maxwell noted that, when he qualified to run for a commission seat, he had wondered if he and Brown could work together. Maxwell, using subdued humor, noted that Brown sometimes uses unconventional techniques which can, on occasion, be aggravating. Brown responded with a laugh.
“Steve and I do not agree on everything,” Maxwell said. “I think we agree on an awful lot. If we looked at percentages it would probably be at 95 percent.”
Whether on the winning or losing side of a given agenda item, “(Brown) has been, quite frankly, a joy to work with,” Maxwell said. “You have to have tough skin whenever you do this position. I feel like everybody that up here has tough skin. You get cut pretty quick up here.”
To date, there has been no announcement of Brown’s future plans.