SOUTH FORSYTH -- Of the five board members currently representing Forsyth County, the longest-serving commissioner received well wishes and spoke on his time in office at his final regular meeting before stepping down.
District 2 Commissioner Brian Tam was honored by other elected officials and spoke to the difficulty of the job, to which he was first elected in 2004.
“The job is really what you make of it, but more importantly than anything else, it’s about coming to work,” Tam said. “There are opportunities at every meeting for which you can do something for your constituents and this county if you do your homework, put the time in and show up at meetings.”
Tam, whose district covers south Forsyth, won re-election bids in 2008 and 2012. He decided not to run this November, succeeding his post to the sole candidate who ran, political newcomer Rick Swope.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve,” Tam said. “I had no idea when I first came into office that I would stay as long as I have, but it seems like the job is never done. You get into something and you want to continue on to see it be finished.”
He also thanked his wife, Kelly, and their children — Jason, Robert, Dorothy and René — and employees of his Cumming-located restaurant, Tam’s Backstage, as well as city employees and staff, County Attorney Ken Jarrard, District 2 planning board member Jayne Iglesias, members of the District 2 subarea planning committee, Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, the Cumming City Council, other elected officials and past and current commissioners.
Tam spoke on several projects he was involved with over the years, such as The Collection at Forsyth, the voter-approved $200 million transportation bond, the Big Creek Greenway and additions at Fowler Park and said the most important part of being a commissioner is listening more than talking and trying to build a consensus.
Commission Chairman Pete Amos read a resolution thanking Tam and recognized his contributions to the park bond and for serving on the transportation committee in Nov. 2014.
District 25 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon, who will also step down at the end of the year and represents much of the same area, praised Tam for his dedication to south Forsyth.
“You and I have represented the same group of people for 10 years — you 12, me 10 — and it’s a great group of people, sometimes a challenging group of people,” Dudgeon said. “You and I, again, haven’t always been on the same page, but [I] also know you have really worked your butt off on some of the things you’ve done for our district.”
Another member of the delegation, District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams, apologized to Tam for previous comments made after an announcement that the proposed city of Sharon Springs will not move forward.
“I know at that time I made some comments about you that I wish I could take back,” Williams said. “I believe I crossed a line. It’s one thing to disagree on somebody’s positions and somebody’s stance on policy, but I believe it’s completely out of line to question one’s integrity and for me to act as if I know what is in your heart.”
Former District 4 Commissioner David Richard called Tam “the last man standing” of those he served with and gave him a unique going away present; a cypress tree — a call back to a similar gift Tam once gave Richard due to his dislike of adding Leland cypress trees to zoning conditions.
“Brian was thoughtful enough at that time to give me a Leyland cypress to plant on my property. Eight years later, I sent him a picture, just earlier this summer, of that very same Leyland cypress proudly growing over 20 feet high and 10 feet wide on my property,” Richard said. “I’m a big person that believes in re-gifting, so while I can’t re-gift the original tree, I would like to give Brian his own cypress.”