The now former, DeKalb County Commissioner, Elaine Boyer is facing Federal charges and likely, a jail sentence, for stealing the public’s money. Recently we also learned that Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton has a proclivity for paying her boyfriend to “consult” for her. Last summer’s indictment of the CEO was, apparently, just the tip of the iceberg. In fairness, other counties and government officials outside of DeKalb haven’t been immune to corruption and bad decisions. But, here, in DeKalb, the sheer volume is proving that incompetence and corruption are the norm rather than the exception.
Many friends, citizens and leaders in DeKalb and around the state, have urged me to run for this vacant seat on the Commission. I am giving this careful consideration. The county as a whole needs sound, disciplined, and effective financial stewardship. The new District 1 Commissioner must work to reestablish public trust. That’s going to take hard work and new ideas about what the public should expect from elected officials and government workers regarding disclosure and transparency.
Confidence in DeKalb government has been shattered. I’m a small government conservative. I also believe that the operations of government should be carried on with a vigorous commitment to competence and credibility. Right now, we have the worst of both worlds; bloated government that has shown to be incompetent and corrupt.
As I consider this office, I have thought about what I would do for the citizens of District 1 and DeKalb as a whole. Of particular importance to me is the need for real-time financial disclosure of government agencies and offices. Other states have implemented on-line check registers that show how your tax dollars are being spent on a daily basis. If I were a DeKalb County Commissioner, I would institute an on-line check register for my office. Had this been in place, it would have been difficult, because of the immediate disclosure, for a commissioner to abuse their p-card by paying for personal expenses. It would also have provided an uncomfortable spotlight on the consulting fee/kick-back scheme as it was happening. It’s simply a good idea for the public to have easy, timely access to how their money is being spent.
In addition to improved disclosure, I would seek to lower the cost of the commissioner’s office and rebate that back to the taxpayer. I would continue my habit of hosting community “Coffee Talk” – something I’ve done for several years both as a citizen and an elected official. I would examine the budget with the same level of scrutiny that I brought to the DeKalb school system. That scrutiny resulted in me being the first person to recognize and document that the school district’s budget was, at best, a weak suggestion on how to spend money and, at worst, a document based on deception. I routinely published my findings on my website. Dealing with the budget and the entrenched opposition to correcting the spending problem was difficult and unpopular. But it was the right thing to do even as it came with consequences that affected me.
Elected offices do not belong to any individual. They belong to you. It is the job of an elected official to do the right thing especially when it is difficult. It is the job of an elected official to protect and, indeed, enhance the credibility of the office. That’s the way it should be and one Commissioner can show the way.