There are two big stories to take away from the election results in the Gwinnett County sheriff’s race.

One is that Gwinnett has elected its first Black sheriff. The other is that his election likely signals the end of the county’s participation in the controversial 287(g) program that retiring Sheriff Butch Conway has long been a champion of.

Keybo Taylor, the Democratic Party candidate, defeated Chief Deputy Lou Solis — who was Conway’s handpicked preferred successor — with 230,457 votes, or 57.37% of the votes cast in the race, according to unofficial results.

Taylor’s margin of victory was 59,230 votes over Solis.

“Yesterday, we finished the drill,” Taylor said in a letter to supporters on Wednesday. “You lifted your voices at the polls and stood in solidarity with an agenda that includes all of Gwinnett.”

Taylor was one of several people of color that Gwinnett County voters swept into office on Tuesday as the longtime Republican stronghold turned to Democrats in nearly every local race to be the county’s new leaders.

But, perhaps the biggest area where Taylor’s election will be felt will be in the ongoing debate over whether Gwinnett County should continue participating in the controversial 287(g) program.

Under the program, the sheriff’s office places immigration holds on undocumented residents who are arrested for crimes and booked into the county jail. Those inmates are then turned over to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, through a partnership between ICE and the sheriff’s office.

“Friends, we share the same passions,” Taylor told supporters. “Along the campaign trail, I spent hours listening to your needs. You voiced concerns for community inclusion, neighborhood safety, the 287(g) program and nonviolent interactions with law enforcement personnel.

“In the upcoming months, my team and I will implement robust plans which will address these concerns. My goal as your sheriff is to lead an office that truly serves the needs of every constituent in our county.”

Conway has long touted what he saw as the value of participating in the program, claiming it kept the county safe. Opponents claimed it unfairly targeted Hispanics and led to people in that community being reluctant to report crimes out of fear that they would be deported if they did so.

Taylor has said in the past that he would end the participation of the Sheriff’s Office in the program if he was elected.

Solis conceded the race to Taylor early Wednesday morning, and called for unity behind the incoming new sheriff.

“To all those who voted for and supported my run for Gwinnett County Sheriff, thank you. I won’t forget your kindness,” Solis said in the statement on his Facebook page. “At this time I ask you all to focus on making Gwinnett County united and stronger. This means supporting the new Sheriff-elect Keybo Taylor. I wish him success as the next Gwinnett County Sheriff. I also want to publicly thank my staff and all the hard working Deputies at the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.”

Support Local Journalism

Now, more than ever, the world needs trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by subscribing or making a contribution today.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

(5) comments

itsanewday

No longer in Gwinnett but glad to see changes. Also, Gwinnett police have a bad reputation. People need to vote more often - especially on the local level. #nonpartisanparty #justicesystemreform

NorcrossGuy

We were all once illegal immigrants unless you're 100% Native American. I believe we need immigration controls but breaking up families that have been here for years is not the way to do it. Also, nice to see someone other than old guys running the show (from an old white guy).

Retirement2019

End the 287G program indeed. Glad I don't have a reason to be in Gwinnett anymore. You folks who did this will regret it. And I'll sit back at a distance and say I told you so. lol

luvkof

The people of Gwinnett would prefer you stay out and far away. Better for all that an undocumented immigrant can report a crime instead of be afraid to call the police, thus allowing the real criminals to continue their crime spree.

No regrets. THANKS KEBO and voters of Gwinnett for being reasonable in your consideration of the issues and not voting out of fear of all that is foreign.

Stephen Lykins

People who enter this country illegally (undocumented = illegal!) are an affront to ALL citizens, LEGAL immigrants and those foreigners following our immigration laws and waiting patiently for their chance to imigrate LEGALLY!

Welcome to the discussion.

Please log in, or sign up for a new, free account to read or post comments.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.