Brown: I’ve Had Enough

David Brown

District 7 Councilman Won’t Seek 9th Term

WINNSBORO – Following this year’s election cycle, and for the first time in more than three decades, there will no longer be a Brown sitting on County Council. David Brown, the 32-year incumbent from District 7 who has been battling throat cancer for the last year, announced his retirement in a letter to The Voice Tuesday afternoon.

In his letter, Brown said the bipartisan deal-making days of progress in the 1980s and 1990s were a thing of the past as politics in Fairfield County and nationwide has degenerated into a stalemate of “name-calling, lies and negativity,” and he has simply had enough.

“I’m tired,” the 64-year-old Brown said in a telephone interview with The Voice Tuesday. “I’ve done it long enough. I’ve done it for half my life. It’s time to let some other young person have it, someone who’s not controlled by any certain group, someone who stands on his own two feet. That’s what I’m hoping will happen now that I’ve made this announcement.”

Brown, in his letter, said Council struggles to find common ground, and the constant criticism of Council’s every move by local municipalities and the county’s state legislative delegation – while at times deserved – has taken its toll on him and is holding the county back.

“The war of personalities that we continue to see from all angles of our elected leadership in Fairfield County is not helping to move our county forward,” Brown wrote. “While the infighting continues, the only people being hurt are the future generations of Fairfield County. The welfare of this county is bigger than personality and popularity contests, and our elected leadership should come to that realization.”

Brown told The Voice that Council’s recent decision to turn over long-term planning duties to the Central Midlands Council of Governments (COG) to help prepare the county for the great influx of wealth expected in 2019 from the first of two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville was just one example of his frustration. That decision drew significant criticism from State Sen. Creighton Coleman and State Rep. MaryGail Douglas, who have been trying to bring the County to the table with SCANA and Santee Cooper to craft a long-term plan.

“You go in there and you don’t say much and what you do say makes sense, and then the legislators are going to criticize it,” Brown said. “The best thing we could do was to go with the COG for that plan. The plan (Coleman) wanted to do wasn’t going to go anywhere. I wanted something that could get passed (by Council).”

During his 32 years as a Councilman, Brown has devoted himself to economic development in Fairfield County. In the 1980s, he was a member of a Council that helped usher in an economic boom for the county, with Mack Trucks, Standard Products and the RiteAid Distribution Center, all of which was a joint effort, Brown wrote. In the 1990s, Brown and Council worked across party lines at the state and national level to help bring the first international industrial park in the state to Fairfield County – the park that bears his family name on Cook Road.

As the political climate changed, Brown told The Voice, and bipartisanship became anathema, economic development opportunities dried up.

“I devoted myself to economic development so my children and grandchildren wouldn’t have to leave Fairfield County just to make a living,” Brown said. “I’m leaving without that dream being fulfilled, but hopefully some of the things we’re working on now will open some opportunities up. I dedicated my life to putting industry in the park that has my dad’s name (Walter Brown) on it, but I never got paid for economic development.”

Brown, who sits on the COG as a private sector member, said he hopes to continue his service to the county there. In the meantime, he said, he will devote his time to being a grandfather to his two grandchildren – Emma, 20 months, and Walt, 3 months.

“This Saturday will be the one-year anniversary of finishing my cancer treatment,” Brown said. “Going through cancer changes the way you look at things. If I can be a halfway decent granddaddy, I deserve that. Being a granddaddy is where I’m needed.”