When I was 8 years old, I saved up about $150 to buy one of my dad’s newspaper boxes from him, one of those heavy metal boxes that you’d put 50 cents in and buy a newspaper. Our deal was that if I saved up enough money to buy one, kept it clean and stocked it myself, then he would give me the newspapers to stock it for free. Once I’d sold 300 newspapers, I’d be making a profit.
Instead of selling lemonade, I’d sell newspapers, just like my dad.
Once I saved up enough money to buy a box, the question then became where to put it. I needed to find a place with plenty of foot traffic, close enough to ride my bike to, that had an owner that would help me keep an eye on it.
My dad knew just the place.
I remember walking into a sandwich shop across from Alpharetta City Hall with him to ask the owner for permission to put my box outside his restaurant.
The restaurant was called Nantucket and the owner’s name was Brandon Beach.
Brandon was an Alpharetta City Councilman back before Alpharetta was Alpharetta. He’d go on to run the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce for over a decade and most recently was elected to the State Senate and is chair of the influential Transportation Committee.
I went off to college, and my little newspaper box is long gone. We still have some scattered around town, but Nantucket, the old City Hall and Alpharetta’s quiet downtown are long gone, too.
I came back home to work in our family newspaper company, and Brandon and I have crossed paths many times since. I’ve gotten to know him outside of the context of the man who owned the restaurant my newspaper box stood in front of.
I have admired many of Brandon’s accomplishments, his tireless work ethic, and his good-natured spirit. He is a people person.
Under the Gold Dome, he is known to be an effective legislator. He is the type of person who knows how to get a bill passed and is a bit of a wonk when it comes to anything involving transportation and infrastructure improvements. He was into transportation projects as a way to develop local economies before it was cool.
If you’d have asked me two months ago to put my money on someone who could help rebuild and lead a Georgia Republican caucus that had just seen its state elect a Democrat for president for the first time since 1992, I’d have put my money on Brandon.
But since November 3, I don’t recognize the official Senator Beach has become.
He seems to have swallowed the “election was rigged” narrative hook, line and sinker. He has railed against our Secretary of State, who to his credit ran the most seamless Georgia election of my lifetime — in a pandemic no less.
Incidentally, Brandon has been a champion for the voting rights of his constituents. He helped secure expanded early voting hours and locations for his district and has always preached the importance of early voting.
The Brandon I know would recognize the accomplishments of Secretary Raffensperger and be the first to condemn the threats of violence against him and his family.
Instead, in recent weeks we have seen him parrot the talking points of the conspiracy fringes of the Republican Party, welcome a lawsuit from Texas aimed at his own state and call for official inquiries into fraud that does not exist — stoking dangerous fires that do nothing more than cost the taxpayer millions of dollars and sow doubt in the sanctity of our elections.
The easy thing to do right now is recognize the attacks and step out of the way.
The Brandon I know embraces the hard thing, because he is a bayou bulldog, and tough is what he does.
The Brandon I know told 8-year-old me not to worry about my little newspaper box in front of his sandwich shop. He told me he’d keep an eye on it for me and ward off the vandals.
I miss that guy. We need him right now.