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Does DeKalb Still Need a CEO?

District 1 Commissioner Elaine Boyer says absolutely not.

The position of county CEO has for years been on shaky ground in DeKalb County. 

Sitting CEO Burrell Ellis has faced questions about the position's necessity in the past and successfully fended them off. 

But after the district attorney raided Ellis' home as part of an investigation into the county's watershed operations last month, local media and elected officials have questioned whether it might be worth pushing to eliminate the position once and for all.

DeKalb County District 1 Commissioner Elaine Boyer, a frequent critic of the CEO position, said she still supported its elimination Tuesday. 

"This form of government doesn't work," she said. "I'm in my 21st year [as a commissioner], it does not work. We're not the federal government. We're local."

Among many defenses of the position, Ellis has said the CEO position is an effective part of a system of checks and balances to local governance, not unlike the federal government's executive branch. Critics of the position have said the county would be better run with a county manager answerable to the board of commissioners.

Ellis defended himself in that same AJC story: 

He cited the system for his first-term success in cutting $130 million from the county’s budget, in partnership with the commission.

“This is the hallmark of a healthy government that is acting in the best interest of the people,” Ellis said. “As this idea continues to come up, I will continue to remind our state elected officials and others that we are proud of the work we have accomplished in DeKalb County.”

In that same story, Emory Morsberger, president of the Stone Mountain Community Improvement District, said tension between the CEO and the board of commissioners is harmful.

“A manager is a professional, not a politician,” Morsberger said to the paper. He said politicians “can still run for county chairman and the professional can help us move forward. That’s not happening now.”

Any change to the form of government would need to be handled through the legislature and voted on by residents.

What do you think about the county CEO position? Should it be eliminated? Tell us in the comments section below.

Dianne Dougherty February 06, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Get rid of this position and use the money for his high paid salary, his assistants, bodyguards and more for important items, like SCHOOLS. We have had more corruption in this office from this commissioner and others than other counties surrounding us. Other counties have their problems, but they are not as bad as DeKalb.
Cheryl Miller February 06, 2013 at 08:55 PM
So, they want to change the government reporting system to one that is more like the way in which the school board and superintendent system works? Yeah, there shouldn't be any problems with that idea. Look how great it's working for education.
Dekalb Resident March 23, 2013 at 11:09 AM
The effort to eliminate the CEO position is nothing but a power grab by the Commissioners. Imagine a Manager under a system controlled by the current bunch of corrupt BOC. The CEO position is County wide elected position. We all have a say in who gets elected. The democratic process allows us to vote that person out of office if we so desire
Nod March 26, 2014 at 10:58 PM
OOoooohhh, "DeKalb Resident" referred to the Board of Commissioners as a corrupt bunch one year ago. Well, that has been proven in at least one instance, as evidenced by the most recent news story of one of our commissioners, and one who wants to eliminate the CEO position, having stolen money from the county through the use of her credit card for personal matters. Sadly, DeKalb County does not have an auditor and will not have very much else after some county residents tear it apart bit by bit. Gee, I'm running short of cash, do you think I can steal it from DeKalb County, repay it interest free at some time in the future when I'm caught? Yeah, let's just eliminate all accountability in everything!

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