03/22/2001

Interim sheriff elected to serve full term of slain lawman
[DeKalb County, GA]

Patti Ghezzi
March 21, 2001 Wednesday, Metro Edition
Copyright 2001 The Atlanta Constitution
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
March 21, 2001 Wednesday, Metro Edition

(DEKALB COUNTY, Ga.) -- Voters Tuesday gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to Thomas Brown to fill the term of Derwin Brown, who was assassinated before he could take office.

The new sheriff-elect, on leave as DeKalb public safety commissioner since being appointed interim sheriff Dec. 22, had 81 percent of the vote with 85 percent of precincts counted. Brown, no relation to Derwin Brown, had 40,206 votes.

The closest challenger in Tuesday's vote was former Atlanta police homicide Detective Geraldine Champion, with 4,889 votes, or 10 percent. Georgia Perimeter College Police Chief Juliet De La Cruz was third with 2,962 votes, or 6 percent.

Heavy rain, wind and power failures provided a final chaotic element to the election, already overshadowed by the mystery of who gunned down Derwin Brown in his driveway Dec. 15 and compounded by a mysterious shootout Sunday in the front yard of a former deputy.

The latest shooting left one man dead, another in jail, a wounded man at large --- and DeKalb citizens in the dark over whether the latest violence was linked to the sheriff-elect's assassination.

Thomas Brown almost had to vote in the dark Tuesday morning, but power was restored at Briarlake Baptist Church just as he leaned over to fill out the form to receive his ballot.

Phyllis Brown, Derwin Brown's widow, cast her vote at Atherton Elementary School --- in favor of a $125 million bond referendum for parks. She said she did not cast a ballot for sheriff. "I voted in November," she said, referring to the ballot she cast for her husband.

©2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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