EXCLUSIVE: Ex-legislator and Democrat seeks top Gwinnett post in 2020

In this 2018 file photo, Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Tucker) discusses a bill to legalize recreational marijuana. (SANDRA PARRISH, WSB RADIO)

In this 2018 file photo, Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Tucker) discusses a bill to legalize recreational marijuana. (SANDRA PARRISH, WSB RADIO)

Former Democratic legislator Curt Thompson plans to run for the Gwinnett County Commission chairman’s post in 2020.

If elected, he would be Gwinnett's first Democratic chairman in more than three decades — and the platform he discussed exclusively with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution prior to announcing his candidacy Thursday is unapologetically progressive.

“I feel like I’ve got something to offer, something to give and a vision for how we build a bridge to the future in Gwinnett County,” Thompson said. “One that includes everybody.”

No other candidates have announced intentions to run in 2020 for the chairmanship, the highest elected position in the government that represents a county of nearly 1 million people.

Since 2011, the county commission has been run by Republican Charlotte Nash, a former longtime county employee. Nash told The AJC she hasn’t yet made a decision about running for re-election.

Thompson, a Shiloh High School graduate and attorney, represented state Senate District 5 for 14 years. Fellow Democrat Sheikh Rahman bested him in last May's primary election.

Thompson said as chairman he would explore the idea of developing a county-run Internet network to provide no- or low-cost service to r esidents and businesses. An d he said he would propose both new de-escalation training for local law enforcement and "new policies to enforce harsh penalties on officers who racially profile our citizens or callously harass minorities."

Thompson also said he would fight to eliminate the use of taxpayer dollars to fund the federal 287(g) program at the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office. The controversial program deputizes local law enforcement officers with some of the powers of immigration officials.

“It would be my position that the county should not fund that,” Thompson said.

Gwinnett has long been a Republican stronghold, but recent election returns have shown that any Democratic candidate could have strong prospects in a countywide chairman's race. Two Democrats won seats on the commission in November, the first since the 1980s.

Nash won her last re-election campaign in 2016 by what was then a surprisingly thin margin.

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