top of page

Closing Comments from the 1.11.22 BOC Meeting

Updated: Jan 14, 2022

Good Afternoon Everyone:

I would like to begin my comments today by paying tribute to the legendary actor Sidney Poitier who passed away last week at the age of 94. This groundbreaking actor and activist paved the way for so many to follow. When he won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964, I was a one-year-old. Mr. Poitier’s achievement as the first black man to do so provided many with a sense of what was possible for African Americans here in the United States of America. It is very hard to overstate the importance of his legacy. May Sidney Poitier rest in peace.

I would like to announce that our first District 4 Quarterly in the Fourth Community Breakfast Meeting for 2022 will be held on Saturday, January 22nd at 9am. This will be a virtual meeting. And more information will be available across our communications platforms.

On January 6th, the East and Tucker Police Precincts held a virtual community meeting to address concerns regarding crime in the Redan Road and Hairston Road area. The meeting was very well attended which is a testament to the community’s engagement. I would like to commend and thank Major Tony Hughes, Major Craig Medlin, Assistant Chief Kenric Banks, and Chief Mirtha Ramos for making themselves available and for answering the community’s questions in a forthright manner. And I will take this opportunity to underscore my support for all that they do in helping to keep our community safe.

I would like to thank our Fire Chief Darnell Fullum and his leadership team for taking the time to meet with me on January 10th to share concerns, challenges, and opportunities that we have in our fire service. I would like to thank them for their candor in continuing to educate me on several important issues. As I have said on many occasions, these are the people who run toward danger while the rest of us run away from it. I thank them for their service to DeKalb County and I look forward to many more conversations in the future with them.

This is indeed my last meeting as Presiding Officer of the Board. In the coming days, I intend to publish a recap of my time in this role. For now, I would like to extend a few heartfelt thank you messages.

First, I would like to thank my District 4 Office Team, Chief of Staff Alesia Brooks and Constituent Services Coordinator Robin Flieg, for another outstanding year. As I have said before on any number of occasions, it would be impossible for me to discharge the duties of this office without their professionalism and support. The citizens of District 4 are very fortunate to have these two dedicated public servants working on their behalf. As the scope of my responsibilities increased when I became Presiding Officer, they never missed a beat. And I am extraordinarily grateful for their continued loyalty and service to DeKalb County.

I would like to thank COO Zach Williams and all the Administration Departments who fall under his leadership for their hard work and service to the citizens of DeKalb County. I know this pandemic environment has been challenging. Even so, you make it happen day in and day out and we are very appreciative.

I would like to thank our Chief Technology Officer, John Matelski and our entire IT Department for their expertise, professionalism, and support throughout this very challenging time. I especially want to thank John for his adaptability and steadfast leadership as we transitioned from an in-person to a virtual construct back in March of 2020. There are those who may not remember that time, but I do. John was instrumental in helping to keep a very challenging set of circumstances from being more chaotic. I will never forget that.

I also want to commend and thank DCTV Director Diamond Lewis and her entire team for their support and professionalism over the past two years. They adapted to this new operating environment in a seamless manner as well and I will always be grateful for that. I will admit that I am going to miss giving Diamond some good-natured teasing before the start of our meetings. But I have a feeling that there will be other opportunities to do so in the future.

I would like to thank our Law Department under the leadership of County Attorney Viviane Ernstes who keeps us all on the straight and narrow. I know that it’s not easy on those occasions when you have to say NO to elected officials. But sometimes that is what is required. And you always do it in a respectful and professional manner. I know you have our best interest and the best interest of DeKalb County at heart. If Viviane says so, I know it must be ok. I for one, appreciate it.

I would also like to thank our Central Staff led by Dr. Kwasi Obeng for being so supportive of me during this time and for adapting to this new operating environment. When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, our previous BOC Chief of Staff had just departed. Things could have easily fallen apart. But the members of the central stepped up and continued to carry on, and I am so appreciative of them for that. At one point during those early days, Dionne McKenzie stopped by office and said, “sir we got you, and we will be ok.” To which I responded “I know you do, and I know we will. Thank you”. I will never forget that. And I know that you will give my successor the same support that you have given to me.

I would like to thank our CEO Michael Thurmond for the calm and steady leadership that he has provided to this county not only for the past two years, but for the past five years. And as Presiding Officer, I have appreciated our open lines of communication even, when we have not agreed on everything.

There are some people who seem to hold the belief that the relationship between the Presiding Officer and the Board of Commissioners with the CEO should be inherently antagonistic, with a drama show playing out in a public meeting every Tuesday morning. I think that holding such a posture is immature, short sighted, counterproductive, and frankly foolish. We are one governing authority, and we should be working together for the benefit of all the DeKalb County citizens that we represent. I look forward to continuing to work with CEO Thurmond as we work together to move DeKalb County forward.

Of course, I would like to thank my BOC Colleagues for the confidence and support that you have vested in me over the past two years. It is something that I have never taken for granted. Not for a single second.

No one becomes Presiding Officer of this Board of Commissioners automatically. No one is entitled to this position. I was always cognizant of these simple facts. While on occasion I needed to be a little firm to keep things moving, I am confident that I have conducted myself with the professionalism and humility befitting of this leadership role. And I sincerely thank my colleagues, including my former colleagues, for affording me this opportunity.

As previously stated, I intend to publish a more comprehensive recap at some point. But, for now I would like to address one issue. I am glad that I resisted the clamoring to return to in-person meetings several months ago. To be certain we gave this very serious consideration. But, given where we are now with the state of this pandemic as everything from school systems to healthcare systems to airlines to sports teams having to adapt, I believe that a headlong rush back into the Maloof Auditorium at that time would have been a mistake. And I stand by that decision. Meeting via Zoom is less than ideal. We all know that. But it is consistent. Given the challenges of the current times I think the notion of consistency has increased value. In due time we will return to in-person meetings. No one is looking forward to that more than me. But today is not that day.

Two years ago, when I assumed the position of Presiding Officer, I said that I regarded this as a tour of duty. That I would discharge these duties to the best of my ability. And that I would most assuredly relinquish these duties at the appropriate time. That time has come. Irrespective of any misinformation, disinformation or any other such nonsense, it was never my intent or desire to stay in this position any longer than that. I pledge to my successor, Commissioner Robert Patrick, my total support. And I will do everything in my power to make this transition as smooth as possible. Indeed, the torch has been passed. And The mission of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners will continue.

If you need any information or assistance you may call my office at 404-371-4749 or visit my website at Finally, l will close today by once again, thanking the citizens of District 4 and DeKalb County for affording me this opportunity to serve. It is indeed, an honor.

And of course, GO DAWGS!!!

9 views0 comments
bottom of page