She is a hard worker and a great manager.Mayor Russ Dean
GUYTON — Meketa Brown isn’t a superhero. She can’t change the course of rivers or bend steel with her bare hands. She can alter the future, however, and that is her goal as the city manager of Guyton.
Brown ascended to her job in December 2021 after serving a brief stint as Guyton’s city clerk.
“It quickly became obvious to our interim city manager, Mike Eskew, that Mrs. Brown had the leadership and management skills necessary to be a city manager,” Mayor Russ Deen said.
Brown’s work background is in banking and she has a degree in political science.
“I did my clerk duties but I was always interested in all the other stuff that was going on,” Brown said. “I would give my two cents’ worth, help with some numbers and did tabulations, and that kind of thing. I think I was being interviewed for the job for two months.
“I think Mike had been watching me for awhile. I always thought I could do it but I had been out of the game for so long.”
Brown, who stepped away from employment for a few years to raise her two sons, was elevated to city manager four months before the City of Guyton began operating under a new charter. She was surprised by the move.
“I did not expect it at all,” she said.
The charter, approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp, was written with input from the Guyton City Council and city attorney after months of researching city charters throughout the state. The governing document strengthened the city manager’s power while reducing the mayor’s role.
“A strong mayor form of government can be dangerous and costly in the wrong hands, which is why most cities are moving away from it,” Deen said. “By having a city manager form of government, the administration is run by a professional who manages the city, its employees and the day-to-day operations of the city. The mayor and council’s role is to set policies dictating how the city is run.
“The city manager form also allows for a smooth continuity of services when there is a change in the elected officials of the city.”
Brown thinks the charter makes city government more responsive to residents.
“I’m here on the ground,” she said. “I see what goes on everyday. I can see what people need.
“(I) have more of that realistic, day-to-day experience that (I) can bring to what needs to happen next.”
Deen lauded Brown’s performance so far.
“Under her guidance, the administration has shown improvement across the board,” Deen said. “She’s a hard worker and a great manager. Guyton is blessed by her efforts.”
Numerous people sat at Brown’s desk during a previously turbulent period in Guyton history. Clerk of Court Crisa Fort said she has worked for seven city managers since arriving at City Hall just over four years ago. Water Clerk Jenna Tidwell has been through almost as many.
Guyton has endured other problems, including a revolving door at police chief, although James Breletic has held the position since March 2020.
“(Fort and Tidwell) have been through a lot between upper management turnover,” Brown said. “That does nothing for morale. They work hard, they’ve been loyal, they do their job and they’ve been kind to the residents.”
Brown said Fort and Tidwell’s familiarity with Guyton is invaluable to her.
“They can tell me when Crossgate was built, and Hidden Creek,” she explained. “They know the different things that have happened here in the city. They have the history that can help me.”
In May, Brown filled out her team with Matthew Walker. She describes the city clerk as her “right-hand man” and “extra eye.”
“He’s a great fit,” Brown said. “He has that level of detail that we need — the discipline — and he’s kind and efficient. He’s a new, fresh mind.
“He will bring new ideas.”
Brown is hopeful that residents will get to know her and her team, and not hold them accountable for any city governmental shortcomings of the past.
“History is a good teacher and we should use it to do better,” Brown said. “We are learning from previous mistakes and are trying to be cognizant of them as we move forward.
“We want to deliver services to our citizens on time and on budget, respectfully. I want every citizen to know you are respected whether you like me or not.
“We are putting the past behind us and looking toward the future.”