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Closing Comments from the 12/14/21 BOC Meeting

Good Afternoon Everyone:

Today I will begin my comments by paying tribute to Lee Elder, who recently passed away at the age of 87. Mr. Elder was the first African American to play in the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, GA in 1975. Leading up to the 1975 Masters, Mr. Elder received death threats and was forced to rent two houses during tournament week. Can you imagine receiving death threats for simply qualifying to play in a golf tournament? And 1975 was really not that long ago. Lee Elder’s ability and courage paved the way for other golfers, including Tiger Woods, who was the first African American to win the Masters in 1997. As someone who struggles mightily at the game of golf, it seems proper for me to pay tribute to this amazing trailblazer. May Mr. Lee Elder rest in peace.

I want to commend our friend and colleague and NACo President, Commissioner Larry Johnson for hosting the meeting of the Large Urban County Caucus right here in DeKalb County from December 1 – 4. Elected officials from across the country were here for this important meeting. I want to underscore how proud we all are of Commissioner Larry Johnson for his leadership of this great organization. He brings great credit to himself, DeKalb County, and the State of Georgia.

My office, in partnerships with Clarkston First Baptist Church, CORE, and the DeKalb Board of Health, have joined forces to sponsor a Toy, Food, and COVID Vaccine Drive-Through event on December 18th starting at 9am. More information will be available across our communications platforms.

On November 17th, it was indeed a pleasure to join my good friend Michael Hightower for an event marking the 20th Anniversary of the Collaborative Firm and groundbreaking for their new corporate headquarters building. Michael has been a friend to me and a friend to DeKalb County over many years. And I was honored and humbled to bear witness to this is significant achievement. I wish Michael Hightower and the Collaborative Firm great success for the next 20 years.

I would like to thank Sheriff Melody Maddox and her leadership team for hosting me for a tour of the county jail on November 19th. This was not my first tour of the facility, but my first during Sherriff Maddox’s tenure. After the tour, we had a very candid discussion about the challenges and opportunities that we face at the facility. Candidly, there are not easy or inexpensive solutions. But I have commitment to supporting our Sheriff in her endeavors as we work through the challenges together.

On November 20th, it was great to join the Mystery Valley Golf Course Ladies Golf Association President Gina Franklin and Men’s Golf Association President Nazir Din for their annual breakfast and awards ceremony. And it was a pleasure to be in the presence of so many golf enthusiasts. Mystery Valley is a tremendous asset in DeKalb County. My office has made a significant financial investment in this jewel, and it is gratifying to see the physical improvements that are being made at the facility. Or to quote Commissioner Larry Johnson “results that you can see.” My golf game will probably never be good enough to win an award for my playing. But I promise to keep working at it and to continue to be a supporter of the Mystery Valley Golf Course.

Later that day, my office sponsored two food distribution events. At Mount Moriah Church, in partnership with Potter’s House CDC, we distributed 300 food boxes and served 1169 individuals. Additionally, 97 COVID Vaccines were administered, and 93 gift cards were distributed. I would like to commend our additional partners, the National Council of Negro Women DeKalb Chapter and the DeKalb County Board of Health. Thank you all for helping to make this event a great success. At Freedom Middle School, in partnership with Victory for the World Church, 280 turkeys along with fresh fruits and vegetables were distributed. Again, I would like to thank our additional partners, Oak Street Community Health Center, Medcura Health, Clover Health, and Fresh Food Town. Obviously, as this pandemic persists the need is great. And we will continue to be here to meet the needs of our people to the extent possible.

On November 22nd, it was an honor to join CEO Michael Thurmond, Congressman Hank Johnson, Commissioner Ted Terry, and other elected officials and friends at the Indian Creek MARTA Station Renovation Groundbreaking ceremony. This initiative will greatly enhance the aesthetics of this transit station. When I consider the wonderful transformation that will be taking place at Avondale Dunaire Park less than a mile away from the Indian Creek Transit Station, I am very excited about the prospects for this entire area. I want to thank MARTA CEO Jeff Parker and his entire time for moving this critical project forward.

On December 3rd, it was a privilege to attend the graduation ceremony for the Accountability Drug Court. My office has provided financial support to the Accountability Courts as part of the Criminal Justice Reform Movement. Watching the participants who are folks with obvious challenges complete such a program is encouraging and inspiring. It was an honor for me to bear witness. I want to commend my friend DeKalb Superior Court Judge Latisha Dear Jackson for her excellent administration of this program. And I want to thank her for the invitation to attend the ceremony.

I would like to thank our Police Chief Mirtha Ramos and her leadership team for taking the time to meet with me on December 6th. They candidly shared with me their challenges and concerns as well as their triumphs. I want to take this opportunity to publicly state how much I appreciate their efforts on behalf of the citizens of District 4 and DeKalb County. I know the job is not easy. And I want to underscore that Steve Bradshaw has their backs.

On December 11th, it was honor to join my fellow AMVETS Post 44 members for a breakfast soiree at Belinda’s Southern Cuisine in Stonecrest. It is always great to fellowship with others who have served this country in uniform, and the food was excellent. So you know, the Post 44 designation is in honor of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America. I would like to thank our Post Commander Al Wright and the entire command team for their great leadership of this organization. I am very proud to be a lifetime member.

That evening, it was a tremendous privilege to attend a retirement celebration for Stone Mountain Mayor Patricia Wheeler at the Garden Executive Club in Stone Mountain. Pat has served the citizens of Stone Mountain in elected office for 37 years, and she has earned a well-deserved retirement. As I said in my remarks that evening, Mayor Wheeler embodies the characteristics of a public servant and has set an example for others to emulate. I thank her for the nobility of her public service. Her presence will surely be missed. I wish her well as she moves on to the next phase of her life. But I have a feeling that her service to the community is far from over.

On December 12th, it was great to join my friends Karen & Darrell Patton at Sweet Potato Café in Stone Mountain to celebrate the 10th anniversary of that wonderful business. As we all know, starting a business and maintaining a successful business is not an easy thing to do. I have dined at Sweet Potato Café multiple times over the past 10 years as well has having Karen cater events for my office. The food and service have always been excellent; therefore, I am not surprised by their sustained success. I congratulate Karen and Darrell Patton, her family, and her staff for this wonderful accomplishment. And I wish them at least 10 more prosperous years in business.

Last evening, I was pleased to join my friends in the City of Tucker as they bid farewell to three dedicated public servants: Councilwoman Michelle Penkava, Councilman Matt Robbins, and Councilwoman Pat Soltys. I have enjoyed working with all of them as well as their other colleagues in the City of Tucker and I wish them all well as they move through the next phases of their lives.

Finally, I would like to announce that the Redistricting Committee of the Whole Meeting that is scheduled for Thursday December 16th at 9am will be moved to 5pm that day. This adjustment has been made in response to some constituent request for an evening meeting to discuss this important issue. The official notification and agenda will be published later this week.

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

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