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Beloved Ohio official retires after 14 years to spend more time with aging mom amid pandemic

"The last year has made apparent [that] time spent with our families is both precious and fleeting, and while public service will always remain my passion, it is time to step aside to focus on being there for my family."

Beloved Ohio official retires after 14 years to spend more time with aging mom amid pandemic
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Franklin County Board of Commissioners

A celebrated government official in Franklin County, Ohio, is retiring from her over a decade-long public service career to spend more time with her elderly mother. According to PEOPLE, Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown announced her resignation Tuesday, explaining to her colleagues that the COVID-19 pandemic played a big part in her taking this decision. "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," the 66-year-old said at the end of a commissioners meeting.



 

"This pandemic has made that even more apparent to me. So today I am announcing my retirement," Brown added. "As your county commissioner, I have always focused on serving the residents and families of Franklin County. But as the last year has made apparent, time spent with our families is both precious and fleeting, and while public service will always remain my passion, it is time to step aside to focus on being there for my family." According to Local TV station WSYX, Brown has a 92-year-old mother who lives in Cleveland and a daughter with chronic health issues that are worsening.



 

Brown also explained that although she was initially leaning toward running for re-election, but not being able to visit her mother in person due to the pandemic prompted her to shift her immediate focus to her family, reports The Columbus Dispatch. "I think family has to come first. My mom is 92 and in Cleveland, and I've lost a year not seeing her," she said. "We don't have much time left. ... 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. 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. That really pushed things to where I am today."



 

Brown was first elected Franklin County commissioner in 2006 and also served as president of the board of commissioners in 2008, 2011, and 2014. She was about two-thirds of the way through her fourth term as Franklin County commissioner when she made the decision to step down. 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. "Her innovative work in changing the narrative around how we treat those transitioning from incarceration will carry forward through the Franklin County Office of Justice Policy and Programs, which works every day to restore families, one resident at a time."



 

"Marilyn Brown is one of the finest public servants that I've ever been around in my 30 years of public service," said John O'Grady, another county commissioner. "Everything that we've accomplished in the time that I've been a member of the board of commissioners, she's been at the center of… Commissioner Brown spent the last 14½ years fighting on behalf of those residents of Franklin County who couldn't fight for themselves… That's her legacy. One could hope that whoever succeeds her has the same values."



 

In a press release about her retirement, Brown credited her family's Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam or "repairing the world" for driving her commitment to upholding fundamental human rights and equality for all. "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," she said. "I will miss my fellow commissioners and the dedicated staff who work diligently for the county and our residents. But most of all, I will miss serving the residents of our county as we move toward making our community stronger, safer, and more inclusive."

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