DeKalb CEO candidates want to transform county

Michael Thurmond wants to “change the trajectory” of the county and build a model community that others will look to emulate.

Connie Stokes wants to put her experience to work for the county.

Joe Bembry wants to dispatch 1,800 new police officers to fight crime.

Only one of them will get to be the next DeKalb CEO.

On May 24, voters must pick.

Thurmond, a former DeKalb superintendent, state labor commissioner, and DeKalb Family and Children Services commissioner, is also a lawyer. Supporters drafted him to run in hopes that he can steady the county, much like he did with the DeKalb School District when it faced loss of its accreditation due to governance and other issues.

The county that the new CEO will lead has been battered by a spate of corruption indictments. Suspended CEO Burrell Ellis, whom they will replace, has served time in state prison on a conviction for corruption, and former Commissioner Elaine Boyer is currently serving time in federal prison for misuse of county funds. Citizens are frustrated by the lack of economic development and curb appeal in South DeKalb.

Thurmond told voters at a May 16 Vote 2016 Forum co-hosted by CrossRoadsNews, New Life Baptist Church and Rotary Club of South DeKalb that the county is facing many challenges but he is tired of hearing about how great it used to be.

“If we come together and work together, we can make DeKalb as great as it has ever been.”

Thurmond said we must have an open and transparent government that is focused on serving the citizens.

“I am convinced that working together as your CEO, with commissioners and people in this room, and all across this great county, we can rise above our differences, find solutions to seemingly intractable problems,” he said. “We will put real focus on improving our economic environment. We will create jobs for our young people. We will support our school system, and reduce crime.”

Stokes, a former DeKalb commissioner and state senator, said she chaired the BOC’s budget committee for six years and is ready to run the county.

“I am really passionate about public service,” she said. “I am running for office to create opportunities, to create jobs, to make sure that this is a safe place for us to live, that we can close our eyes at night and wake up without someone kicking our door down.”

Stokes, who spent 16 years between her two previous elected offices, said everywhere she goes, people are talking to her about public safety.

“People just need to feel safe,” she said.



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