On Thursday, January 22nd, the Council for Quality Growth and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce co-hosted the 2015 DeKalb State of the County Address. Interim CEO Lee May delivered the DeKalb State of the County Address to a sold out crowd of more than 400 people.
Interim CEO May acknowledged DeKalb County’s recent struggles, and reported on his administration’s efforts to ensure that the county has a bright future. Interim CEO May centered his speech on his proposal of a “New Covenant” with the people of DeKalb County, by specifying his plans to continue to grow the county into Georgia’s very own exceptional “light on the hill”. In Interim CEO May’s words: “We’re on the right path and we’re making progress every day. It is time to seize this moment, to take charge of our future and act boldly and wisely to build a new foundation for a bright future.”
And his administration is on the right path to achieving this vision.
Interim CEO May’s current policies and forthcoming plans to improve DeKalb County were the highlight of the address, which focused on:
- Public Safety
- Quality of Life
- Economic Growth and Job Creation
Public safety has improved over the past eighteen months in DeKalb County; in that amount of time, the crime rate has fallen 3.8 percent. But Interim CEO May is committed to reducing crime even further by hiring more police officers, and making sure they have the most up-to-date training available. According to Interim CEO May, “Our greatest obligation is to keep our citizens safe.” And this does not end with a large, well-trained police force. Increasing the number of firefighters and fire stations is also a focus of this administration.
Interim CEO May also desires to continue to improve the county’s parks and neighborhoods. Operation Fresh Start, a beautification project that works closely with Keep DeKalb Beautiful and the Cod Compliance Department to improve the county, was launched last year to accomplish this goal. Interim CEO May believes that these projects will help to maintain DeKalb’s communities and neighborhoods, so that DeKalb County can continue to be a preferred place to live.
Another focus in the next year for Interim CEO May’s administration will be continued economic growth in the region. Interim CEO May looks to new public-private partnerships to create jobs and stimulate DeKalb County’s economy. He plans to pursue the creation of a new Government Center on Memorial Drive to help with this objective as well.
Interim CEO May announced his intentions to reform ethics in DeKalb County’s government. He plans to require all employees of the CEO’s office to undergo ethics training, as well as institute limits on gifts and meals to government employees. Any travel conducted on government funds must be relevant. In addition, honoraria will be prohibited. He made his position very clear: “There is no tolerance for corruption in my administration. There is no tolerance for unethical conduct in my administration. There is no tolerance for even the appearance of impropriety in my administration.” Under his watchful eye, an understanding and trust between government and its citizens will be renewed and continue to cultivate as one unit poised to handle any county issue that arises.
Healthcare is also on Interim CEO May’s agenda for 2015. He plans to develop the area around the CDC and Emory University, as well as improve these institutions to improve healthcare for the citizens of DeKalb. The added economic benefits from investing in these institutions, which are some of the county’s biggest employers, will further grow the county.
Transportation is also a critical component of DeKalb’s economy. Interim CEO May intends to finish building the Clifton and I-20 projects to reduce commute times for workers. He also wants to re-pave roads, and add more sidewalks and trails to allow easier movement around the county.
Finally, Interim CEO May closed his speech with a message of hope. “If we work hard and work together with a single purpose, if we rededicate ourselves to good and effective and honest government, we will continue to lift DeKalb’s fortunes and reputation as we once again become that special ‘Light on the Hill’.” DeKalb may have been through some tough times recently, but with Interim CEO May in office it seems that the future will indeed be bright.
Interim CEO May also revealed his intention to develop a “Dowtown DeKalb” on Memorial Drive, which stretches from Stone Mountain to Atlanta. This development would include the establishment of government buildings as well as commercial and residential developments.
Click HERE to read the AJC’s coverage on May’s proposal.
The Council for Quality Growth would like to thank Interim CEO May, the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and everyone who attended for making the event a great success.