The Gwinnett County Sheriff, known for his tough stance on immigration, announced Tuesday he will not run for re-election. Butch Conway has served as sheriff for 24 years.
“My decision to not seek re-election was not made easily, but I have reached a point in my life where I desire to pursue other opportunities which will afford me more time with my family, who recently suffered a great loss,” Conway said in a statement.
The sheriff said he’s proud that Gwinnett County took part in the 287(g) program.
That program is a partnership between local deputies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It gives the Sheriff’s office the power to turn detained immigrants over to ICE.
The sheriff said it made the county safer.
Jerry Gonzalez, who heads the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, said the county’s demographics have changed since Conway took office.
“I was actually very glad that he chose to retire and not run for re-election,” Gonzalez said. “His implementation of the 287(g) program is Gwinnett County was out of sync with Gwinnett County voters, and I think he would have found that out this election cycle.”
Census estimates show that about a quarter of Gwinnett’s nearly 930,000 people are foreign born.
“It undermines the efforts of local law enforcement in community policing,” Gonzalez said about 287(g). “And we hope that it will soon come to an end in Gwinnett County.”
Conway said he hopes Chief Deputy Lou Solis will become the county’s sheriff.
“I hired Chief Deputy Lou Solis two years ago with the intention of preparing him to succeed me,” Conway said. “Chief Deputy Solis has worked exhaustively over the past two years to familiarize himself with our operations.”
Last year, the Sheriff’s Office renewed the 287(g) program. The program expires this year.