Henry commissioner to resign amid residency questions

A Henry County commissioner, facing questions about his residency status, plans to leave office by the end of July.

For nearly a year, District 2 Commissioner Brian Preston split his time between Henry County and Franklin, Tenn. He announced this week he would resign to move permanently to Tennessee, where his wife and children already reside. Preston also plans to close his wealth-management firm in McDonough.

Preston’s pending resignation follows months of speculation by some community residents that he actually lived in Tennessee and not Georgia.

Efforts to reach Preston and commission Chairman Tommy Smith were unsuccessful Friday.

Schuyler Harding, a spokesman for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, said Friday, “The question of residence regarding the qualification to run for or remain in office is a question that would have to be resolved judicially.”

One long-time resident, Barbara Torbett, said Preston’s resignation is long overdue and that she’s not happy that he’ll be in the job another month.

“Am I happy to see Mr. Preston go? Yes, because he has not been honest,” said Torbett, who has spent the past eight months trying to get Preston out of office. “He’s fooled the people. When I tried to do the right thing, he asked me to trust him and that he would resign last October but he stayed. Everyday he served is illegal.”

Because he’s not leaving until next month, he’ll likely get to vote on the county budget, a new county manager and fire chief, said Torbett, who has lived in the county since 1970.

“He’ll be voting on things that have far-reaching implication,” Torbett said.

Torbett said she obtained records for Preston’s county-issued cellphone and found that between last September 24 and April 20, Preston had 189 calls. More than 130 of those calls originated in Franklin, Tenn.

“He says he spends 50 percent of his time in Tennessee and 50 percent in Henry,” Torbett said. “You can’t have two domiciles.”