Marilyn Brown pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as the driving factor in her decision to retire

By Sean Neumann
May 13, 2021 02:40 PM
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Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown and her mother, Bea Epstein
Marilyn Brown (right) with her mom, Bea Epstein
| Credit: Courtesy Franklin County Commissioner

A government official in Franklin County, Ohio, is resigning from a celebrated career to spend more time with her 92-year-old mother, she announced on Tuesday.

The COVID-19 pandemic was the deciding factor, retiring Commissioner Marilyn Brown told her colleagues at the end of a meeting.

"I've always known that public service in this kind of a role comes at a price, whether it's less time with family because of the 24 hours, seven days a week governing and stressful times as this past year and a half has been," Brown, 66, said, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

"This pandemic has made that even more apparent to me," Brown continued. "So today I am announcing my retirement."

The Dispatch reports that Brown has two daughters as well as three grandchildren. One of her daughters has chronic health issues that are worsening, as well, local TV station WSYX reported.

"I think family has to come first," Brown said at the meeting. "My mom is 92 and in Cleveland, and I've lost a year not seeing her. We don't have much time left."

She added: "I can't do the position the way I want to do it and the way I feel I need to do it and take care of my family."

Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown
Marilyn Brown
| Credit: Courtesy Franklin County Commissioner

Brown was reportedly considering running for re-election next year, after "easily" winning a fourth term in 2018, according to the Dispatch. She was first elected to the role in 2006 and also served as president of the board of commissioners in 2008, 2011 and 2014.

"I didn't want to feel regret in waiting until the end of the term to decide whether I could run again and have a chance that my mom wasn't going to make it," she said Tuesday. "That really pushed things to where I am today."

Brown's colleagues lauded her career following her announcement.

"Under Marilyn's leadership, Franklin County became a nationally recognized leader in smart justice and assisting ex-offenders rebuilding full lives," Board of Commissioners President Kevin L. Boyce said in a statement, adding that her progressive work on criminal justice reform will "carry forward."

John O'Grady, another county commissioner, told the Dispatch that Brown is "one of the finest public servants that I've ever been around in my 30 years of public service."

Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown
Marilyn Brown (center)
| Credit: Courtesy Franklin County Commissioner

The Dispatch reports Brown helped create the Office of Justice Policy and Programs, which was set up to help individuals transition after spending time in prison and reentering society.

"They're our neighbors, our friends, our community members," Brown said Tuesday about the program. "If you want to make sure that they stay out and lead productive lives and not continue to have a life filled with crime, we need to give people second chances."

A press release about Brown's retirement says the commissioner had cited her family's Jewish tradition of Tikkun olam, or "repairing the world," as a driving force throughout her career.

"I've carried that tradition with me as I worked on behalf of every resident of Franklin County, and I hope I have left our community a better place after my years of service," Brown said, adding, "I will miss serving the residents of our county as we move toward making our community stronger, safer, and more inclusive."