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Posts Tagged ‘DeKalb County’

DeKalb could lose two State Reps.

July 29, 2011 Comments off

That’s right folks. DeKalb, since it has grown slower than its exurban counterparts to the north will more than likely lose two of its state representatives to some far flung semi-rural backwater in the north Georgia mountains. That from the lips of district 90 representative Howard Mosby who was in attendance at the redistricting meeting held by Kathie Gannon in Gresham Park this week. Though he did not call it a rural backwater, Mosby’s speculation sort of mirrors what I posted last week about congressional redistricting in DeKalb. Power in the state house and Congress is leapfrogging the southern parts of the metro in favor of the far northern counties. From a political standpoint it means a smaller voice in the legislature. From an economic standpoint, it could mean fewer dollars for things like roads and transit. No details came forward as to which representatives would lose their seat, but Mosby did say that during redistricting, recently voted in members have an advantage. But that’s not all. Our school districts will go from nine to seven thanks to recently passed legislation. That means two members could be drawn out or forced to run against another incumbent. Again those recently elected have an advantage over those who have not faced a re-election since 2010. Those of you who wanted Cunningham or Copelin-Woods gone may have to wait for another election cycle. And finally, our esteemed board of commissioners will have their districts redrawn. District 5, Lee Mays dominion, is the largest district by size and population, so it will have to be cut down to help districts three and four become more balanced in terms of population. No one will be drawn out of the commission districts, though several are up for re-election.

As I was writing the above, the AJC posted what could be the first version of new congressional districts in Georgia. From what I can tell, DeKalb county will have three reps instead of four. It looks like David Scott in the 13th had the few thousand people in extreme South DeKalb taken away and put into John Lewis’ 5th district. As I was told by a politician recently, the 4th did slide further east taking in all of Rockdale, and some of Newton. From this map I cannot tell for sure if the 6th dipped further down into DeKalb, but it does look as though most of north DeKalb and North Atlanta are now in the 6th district. If this map holds, it looks like all three Democrats in Atlanta Metro are safe. I do wonder though if stretching the 4th all the way to Newton wouldn’t make the 4th a little more conservative, and give Hank Johnson a challenge for his seat. Of the three metro area Democrats, Hanks seat may be the least safe. Here is a copy of the map.

DeKalb tax increase is inevitable

June 29, 2011 Comments off
The tax man cometh, and he wants to raise your taxes. I think by now most DeKalb homeowners know they are about to see their taxes go up. We knew this was coming, and the commission knew it was coming, but I guess they wanted to play the roles of friend to the homeowner when it comes election time. CEO Elllis knew it had to be dome, but he just didn’t ask for enough of a millage increase. So here we are about to get pinged with higher property taxes. The possibility of an additional penny for transportation ( got something about that coming too) a job and housing market that is anemic at best, and county services that are just as anemic. It is really becoming hard to justify remaining in DeKalb. The grass may not be greener on the other side, but at least it ain’t brown like we have in DeKalb.
Try to attend one of the scheduled public hearings on the millage increase whether you are for or against. Also check out the millage rate increases for the cities and the unincorporated areas.
Tuesday, July 5 (10:00 am and 6:00 pm)
& Tuesday, July 12 (10:00 am)
Location

Maloof Auditorium

2011

Rollback Rate

% Increase

Atlanta

10.39

8.938

16.25 %

Avondale Estates

15.41

13.464

14.45 %

Chamblee

13.71

12.223

12.17 %

Clarkston

15.06

13.242

13.73 %

Decatur

10.82

10.087

7.27 %

Doraville

13.60

12.607

7.88 %

Dunwoody

13.35

11.357

17.55 %

Lithonia

15.33

13.280

15.44 %

Pine Lake

15.61

13.541

15.28 %

Stone Mountain

13.90

12.980

7.09 %

Unincorporated

19.62

18.017

8.90 %

Countywide Debt

1.08

0.647

66.92 %

Unincorporated Debt

0.66

1.631

-59.53 %

Green Energy in South DeKalb?

June 15, 2011 Comments off

Biomass proposal draws protesters, wins DeKalb support  | ajc.com.

DeKalb County says it is the greenest county in America. And to help bolster that claim, they have approved a green energy facility that will have little or no pollution, and can generate electricity for 7,000 homes. At least that is the sell that Green Energy Partners has told DeKalb County. Residents in that part of the county are not impressed. They had been fighting to keep the facility from being built, but their pleas fell on deaf ears as DeKalb commissioners voted unanimously to approve the plant.

Green Energy Partners is not the only group to attempt to open a biomass facilty in DeKalb. In 2009 Southeastern Renewable Energy asked the county to rezone some land on Briarwood Road near I-85 and North Druid Hills Road so that thye could build essentially the same type of facilty. In fact if you read the SLUP for both, the purpose is exactly the same with the exception of who is requesting, and where it is located. Here is the stated purpose of each:

Green Energy

Application of Patrick Ejike to request a Special Land Use Permit to operate a utility generation facility (Biomass Renewable

Energy Facility) within the M-2 (Industrial) zoning district. The property is located on the east side of Rogers Lake Road,

approximately 446 feet south of Lithonia Industrial Boulevard at 1744 and 1770 Rogers Lake Road. The property has approximately 483

feet of frontage along Rogers Lake Road and contains 21.12 acres


Southeastern Renewable Energy

Application of Raine Cotton to request a Special Land Use Permit to operate a utility generation facility (Biomass Renewable

Energy Facility) within the M-2 zoning district. The property is located on the southwest side of Briarwood Road (vicinity of Georgia Power Easment)approximately 880 northwest of Interstate 85 (vacant land, no address). The property has approximately 150

feet of frontage on Briarwood Road and contains 3.16 acres

So what made the Green Energy application so much more plausible than the SRE application? After all, the planning department denied the SRE application based on several issues including “..anticipated significant impacts on water quality, air quality, noise impacts and transportation impacts.” Yet they recommended referral for the Green Energy application. Commissioners repeatedly deferred the SRE application from 2009 until April of 2010 when the application was finally withdrawn. So here are two facilities that use similar technologies to produce energy, yet one is considered a health hazard while the other is given the go ahead to operate. I am also wary of the timing of this entire thing. In April of 2010, DeKalb commissioners entertained the idea of this plant from Green Energy. A week later SRE’s application was withdrawn. In July of the same year, the commission voted to sell the very wood chips Green Energy says it will use in it’s facility for five dollars a ton. And now they have approved the facility in southeast DeKalb. If I lived within a half mile of this thing, I would definitely want to know more about how this whole thing wound it’s way through the county leadership.

Issues South DeKalb should keep an eye on.

June 7, 2011 1 comment

Congressional District Lines

the redrawing of congressional lines and legislature lines will take center stage this summer. In August, a special session will begin the process of redrawing district lines to accommodate this states increase in population. As it stands the legislature will have 14 districts to draw as oppose to 13. Since republicans control all three branches of state government, you can expect Democrats to fare poorly during this once a decade redrawing. I for one hope the legislature looks at how DeKalb is carved up. DeKalb, with a population around 750 thousand has 4 congressional districts. That’s more than Fulton or Gwinnett. The legislature should bring all of DeKalb that is not in the 6th district or in the city of Atlanta back into the fourth. See a possible district breakdown here. DeKalb is basically an urban county with issues that more align with the central city than with more rural areas like Rockdale, or Henry, or South Fulton county. It is going to be interesting to see how the legislature deals with DeKalb. Aside from the congressional redrawing,  what could have a greater impact on DeKalb is the representation in the statehouse. As the AJC has reported on several occasions, DeKalb, along with Fulton has not kept pace in terms of growth with its exurban counterparts. In the state legislature DeKalb could lose a seat or two, weakening its delegation in the statehouse. That weakening would be a strengthening for a county like Forsyth wich has only a fraction of the population of DeKalb. If DeKalb does lose a seat or two, we all can guess where those seats will come from. If you want more info on the redrawing, check out this Google search

Transportation

In the fall people all across the Metro area will vote whether or not to tax themselves an additional penny to fund transportation infrastructure throughout the region. By late August we should know exactly wich projects voters will be asked to fund. Many projects will affect South DeKalb. Things like mass transit, road improvements and interchange improvements are all on the list for DeKalb. I have stated in a prior post that I am not against a self-imposed tax for better transportation service throughout the metro. What I fear is that DeKalb residents will pay more and receive less. Rail service has been talked about in South DeKalb for decades, but none has materialized. The state DOT has already nixed the idea of rail service to Conyers, and rightfully so. The density of the population that far out just doesn’t warrant it just yet. But some sort of rail service to South DeKalb is long overdue. Two options benefitting South DeKalb could be placed on the final list for voters to approve. One  is rail transit from downtown to Candler Road and the other is  an extension of the Blue Line to Wesley Chapel. The cynic in me says neither will get the needed support from the roundtable that is tasked with providing the final list. If the final list comes out, and all we get in DeKalb are interchange improvements and other areas get more options, I would be inclined to say no to a new tax. But I will keep an open mind about the whole thing.

Policing

A friend of mine had his home broken into recently. The police responded and we started talking about police coverage where he lives. What he told me was astonishing. He said on any given night there are four cars patrolling an area from Moreland Avenue to Wesley Chapel/Flakes Mill Rd south of I-20. Yea that’s a huge area. I was shocked that an area that is so huge would have only four cars. My first instinct was to think the officer was exaggerating, but when a second car showed up, he said the same thing without knowing what we and the previous officer had spoken about. After a little bit of searching, I found this map of the South Precinct. If these divisions represent individual beats within the precinct, then I can see how its possible for only four cars to patrol the area. But even worse is that these same areas are becoming crime-ridden but a surge in police coverage has not kept pace.  It seems to me that the police are in a respond to incidents stage than proactively policing areas that are vulnerable to criminal activity.

Transportation wish list has many South DeKalb projects

April 15, 2011 4 comments

Here is a list of road and transit requests that directly affect South DeKalb county. Many of them are just road improvements, but a few are massive projects that cost a lot of cash. As you know, in  2012 we all will vote on whether to impose an additional penny tax on ourselves to pay for improved transportation infrastructure. Right now the list is very long, but it will be pared down in the coming months. By October, a final list will be presented and it will be voted on in 2012. There are a few projects in South DeKalb that have some merit. Improvements to the interchanges at Panoala/I-20 and the 285/Bouldercrest Rd. Interchanges. Anyone who has driven on either of these roads know they are woefully inadequate for the traffic they carry. In terms of mass transit, there are several options on the table that will bring transit alternatives to many areas along the I-20 corridor including the possibility of a heavy rail extension from Indian Creek to Wesley Chapel Road. Here is a list I culled from the AJC. If you want more details and costs for each, check out their database here. If you want more info on the entire project check out the ARC page here.


PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name Bouldercrest Road from I-285 South to Linecrest Road – Widening

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Improve from 2 lanes to 4 divided lanes with landscaped median, sidewalks and bike lanes. Improve traffic flow, relieve congestion, produce safety and operation improvements and improve access to I-285. Linecrest Road to I-285.

 PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name SR 212 (Browns Mill Road) from SR 155 (Snapfinger Road) to Rockdale County Line – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Relieve congestion at key intersections and improve traffic flow by adding turn lanes, bike/ped and signalization upgrades. Snapfinger to Rockdale County line.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name Columbia Drive from US 78 (College Avenue) to I-20 East – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal upgrades, and resurfacing. I-20 to E College Ave.

 PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name US 278 (Covington Highway) from I-285 East to SR 124 (Turner Hill Road) – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal upgrades and resurfacing. Evans Hill Rd to SR 124 (Turner Hill Rd), I-285 to Evans Mill Rd.

 PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name SR 155 (Flat Shoals Parkway) from I-285 South to Snapfinger Road – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal updgrades and resurfacing. SR 155 (Snapfinger) to I-285.

 PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name Glenwood Road from SR 155 (Candler Road) to US 278 (Covington Highway) – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal updgrades and resurfacing. SR 155 (Candler Rd) to Covington Hwy

 PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name Panola Road from SR 155 (Snapfinger Road) to US 278 (Covington Highway) – Widening and Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Convert a 2-lane to a 4-lane divided with sidewalks, bike lanes. US 278 (Covington Hwy) to SR 155 (Snapfinger Rd); Covington Hwy to Redan Rd.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name SR 155 (Snapfinger Road) from Flat Shoals Parkway to River Road – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose To relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal upgrades, and resurfacing. From Flat Shoals to River Road and intersection improvement.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name Wesley Chapel Road from SR 155 (Flat Shoals Parkway) to Boring Road – Corridor Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose To relieve congestion at key intersections, add sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal upgrades, and resurfacing. From Boring Road to Flat Shoals Parkway.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name I-20 East at Panola Road – Interchange Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Construct interchange upgrades at Panola Road

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name I-285 South at Bouldercrest Road – Interchange Improvements

Agency Dekalb

Project purpose Interchange improvements at Bouldercrest Road, adding turn lanes, improved ramps and bridges.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name I-20 East Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Improvements – Phase A

Agency MARTA

Project purpose This project is Phase A of the I-20 East Transit initiative to construct and operate high capacity transit in the I-20 East corridor. Phase A will construct a Park & Ride lot and Transfer Center at the Mall at Stonecrest off Mall Parkway asouth of I-20 in Dekalb County. Bus service from this facility will include local and semi-express service to and from the Perimeter Center, Central Atlanta, Cumberland and Airport acitivity centers and the South Dekalb residential area.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name I-20 East Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Improvements – Phase B

Agency MARTA

Project purpose This project is Phase B of the I-20 East Transit initiative to construct and operate high capacity transit in the I-20 East corridor and assumbes Phase A is fully funded and selected for the Transportation Investment Act investment list. Phase B will construct three Transit Centers with associated needed parking at three locations along I-20 consistent with the I-20 East Transit Initiative scheduled for adoption in July 2011. The most likely locations as of March 30, 2011 at I-20 and Candler Road, I-20 and Wesley Chapel Road and Fairington Road/Dekalb Medical Center Hillandale. Bus service from these facilities will include local and semi-express service to and from the Perimeter Center, Central Atlanta and Cumberland activity centers and the South Dekalb residential areas

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name I-20 East Corridor High Capacity Transit from Central Atlanta to Candler Road

Agency MARTA

Project purpose To provide transit service to South Dekalb County that directly connects to Downtown Atlanta. This segment will achieve the goal of connecting the South Dekalb area and Downtown Atlanta in the shortest length possible. There would be connections to the existing MARTA heavy rail system once reaching central Atlatna. Light rail or bus rapid transit would be the possible technologies utilized.

PROJECT PURPOSE & TYPE

Project name MARTA East Heavy Rail Line Extension from Indian Creek Station to Wesley Chapel Road Near I-20 East

Agency MARTA

Project purpose To provide transit service in the South Dekalb area by implementing a segment of the I-20 East transit project. This segment would be HRT and would connect to the existing MARTA Blue (East) Line. The first phase would begin at Wesley Chapel and travel to Indian Creek. This is about 5.4 miles.


Proposed budget cuts gonna be hard for DeKalb residents

March 14, 2011 2 comments

Among the cuts probably headed our way according to AJC article:

Library to close

The library board voted to close the Scott Candler branch on McAfee Road. Other libraries will see reduced weekend and evening hours.

Cuts to police on the ground

A memo from Police Chief William O’Brien says he plans to cut 46 police officers, including the 40 vacancies the June academy was scheduled to fill and six new cadets

Closing precincts and response times

The chief is also looking at closing the Flakes Mill Precinct in south DeKalb and limiting responses to theft, fraud, harassing phone calls, vandalism, gambling and other non-emergency calls

Fire cuts personnel and stations

The fire department’s proposal calls for cutting 197 positions to privatize ambulance services. That includes 89 current employees and 108 vacancies. Of the 89 current employees, 83 are now in the fire training academy, according to a memo from Fire Chief Eddie O’Brien. He has also proposed temporarily closing stations 3 in Avondale Estates and 10 in east Atlanta during renovations

Dead bodies can wait

The medical examiner has proposed stopping weekend autopsies and storing bodies until weekday staff can handle them

More furloughs and layoffs

elections workers being furloughed 18 days and the voter registration office closing two days a month, except during October and November. Human resources, Planning, Geographic Information Services, and other departments have proposed layoffs

I guess they have trimmed all the fat and cut into the meat, now they are working on  the bone.

Foreclosures not the reason for enrollment drops in South DeKalb

March 2, 2011 2 comments

Would someone please inform the AJC that unless they have done the research, to stop insinuating that the high number of foreclosures in South DeKalb is the reason why school enrollment is down. There is no doubt that some students who leave a particular school has done so because their parents were forced out of their home, but enrollment in many South DeKalb schools has been declining for almost a decade. Here are a few examples from this year alone of the AJC making it a point to blame foreclosures for the recent enrollment drops. Here are a few examples:

 

From March 1st

Many speakers at the hearing accused the board of pandering to the interest of parents in affluent north DeKalb neighborhoods, while targeting schools in the south. However neighborhoods in south DeKalb are some of the hardest hit by foreclosures

 

In a story jan. 13th

Most of the schools slated to close are in south DeKalb, which has been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. Children from those schools would move to schools in other areas of the county

 

This from Feb 7th

However, south DeKalb houses some of the neighborhoods in metro Atlanta hardest hit by the housing slump and foreclosures.

 

I did some cursory research on school enrollment at a few schools in South DeKalb, and found that the schools scheduled to close were losing kids years before the foreclosure crisis. In fact during the recent foreclosure mess and economic downturn, some schools have been able to maintained their enrollment levels. I decided to go back to the 2003-2004 school year. That was when I purchased my home, and I remember that people were still high on real estate and foreclosure was unheard of. Her is what I found:

 

Atherton Elementary Had 466 students in the 03/04 school year. Two years later(05/06) they had fallen to 438. Two years after that, it was down to 419, and by the 2009-2010 school year, Atherton had 399 students. Gresham Park fared far worse, going from 400 students in 02-03 to under 300 by the 09-10 school year. Both schools had massive drops that started long before the economic downturn and the resulting spate of foreclosures

 

Contrast that to A couple of larger schools in newer areas of South DeKalb. Oakview, opened in 2005, started out with 876 students by 2010 they had 828, a loss of 48 students, still one of the largest elementary schools in the county. Chapel Hill had 784 students in 2003, and 763 by 2010. Both schools loss less than six percent of their students.

 

My point is simply this; Without any hard numbers, making assumptions that foreclosures are the reasons for these school’s falling enrollment is misleading and lazy. If the reporter had a simple knowledge of the area, they would know that demographics is playing the largest role in enrollment decline. Unlike in other parts of the county, some areas in South DeKalb are not replacing students at a high enough clip for these schools to maintain normal enrollment numbers. In other areas of South DeKalb you have schools that are. These phenomenon are nothing new. In the 90’s, schools in South DeKalb that were outside 285 experienced such rapid growth that new schools had to be built to accommodate the influx of students. A decade or so from now, the declining enrollment at schools inside 285 will probably spread to those outside 285 in South DeKalb. It is a shift in demographics. Unless young people with young children move into South DeKalb, you are going to see this play out several more times in the near future.

 

DeKalb budget strained by pensions; personnel

February 16, 2011 4 comments

I attended a public meeting on DeKalbs budget held by commissioners Elaine Boyer and Kathy Gannon on Tuesday. It was an eye opening experince as to why the taxpayers in DeKalb should be concerned in the next week or so. The county commission is scheduled to vote February 22nd on whether or not to approve or amend a 12% increase in property taxes that CEO Burrell Ellis has proposed. The CEO and others feel that a tax increase is the only way to balance a budget that started the year off 7 million in the hole.

At the meeting, a financial consultant laid out what is at stake when the commision votes. In his estimation, the county cannot continue down the path it is currently on. The worst case scenario showed the property tax digest falling once again in 2011 and personnel costs continuing to increase. In that scenario, the county would not be able to maintain services at the the present tax rate. Something will have to give. Either a tax hike, which many in the audience were against, more service cuts or massive overhaul of the benefits and pensions of county employees. when looking at the numbers, it is obvious that the pension system is killing the budget, along with the bloated payroll. I have posted in the past how the county has ignored the recommendations of a Georgia State University audit that said the county should eliminate or consolidate positions within the county government to reduce costs. That will address some of the short term pain, but a closer look at the pension system shows it is the 800 pound gorilla that no one wants to tackle. Because of state law, the county has to maintain a certain level of funds to pay out pesions to county employees. In 2011, the county is on the hook for nearly 50 million dollars so that the pension remains viable. But lets take alook at this pension. Way back in the day, government employees were compensated less than their private sector counterparts. To address this governments around the country gave their employees very gracious health and pension benefits to hire and keep good employees. Today, that system is bankrupting local governments, who have to continue to pay out benefits to retirees and help cover employees healthcare. Add to that the downturn in the stock and bond markets, and local goverments are finding it hard to keep pace with the required minimums set by law. So what is the solution?

In the private sector, when your 401k tanked in the last couple of years, you were on the hook for the losses. That is not the case for government funded pensions and healthcare. We the taxpayers have to foot the bill to ensure that DeKalb’s pension system does not go into default. So the 50 or so million dollar tab that the pension system needs to remain viable is passed on to us, the taxpayers. Raising taxes today will not solve the pension and benefits problem that will continue for years to come. If the county wanted to fix this, they could force employees into a private system such as plans similar to 401k where employees determine how much of their pay goes towards their retirement. Any future employee would be directed into this new pension formula thereby taking the responsibility off the taxpayer a placing it on the shoulder of the employee. The county could also ask employees to pay higher deductibles for their healthcare. High deductible plans are the path that many government and private sector employees are going to help balance their budgets.

Let me go on the record as saying I am not totally against a tax increase to help balance the budget. What I am against is the county asking me to send them more of my income to balance their budget when they have not trimmed as much fat as possible. Public safety should be their primary concern. Quality of life issues like libraries and parks may have to take a temporary cut, but if the county would address benefits and pensions, the cuts to quality of life programs would not be hit nearly as hard.

I encourage all DeKalb residents to contact their commissioners and tell them that they must act on health and benefits before they pass a tax increase. In this economy, few people should have to pass more of their hard earned dollars to the county, when the county has not put forth an effort to curb its spending.

Another budget town hall will be held at the Tucker Library, 5234 LaVista RoadTucker, GA 30084 on Thursday February 17th at 7 pm.

Want more info on the DeKalb budget? Check out these links

CEO’s proposed budget

BOC budget information

Budget Opinion

A quick conversation with Cory Ruth

February 4, 2011 4 comments

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Cory Ruth recently about issues that affect DeKalb County, and our little chat shed some insight on the man who once sought to replace Hank Johnson as the 4th distict representative from Georgia. We discussed several issues including his possible plans to seek elected office in 2012. He did not rule out a possible run for Congress again, but said he wanted to wait to see how the Legislature would handle redistricting of congressional lines. We both were in agreement that DeKalb should be consolidated into one or two congressional districts instead of the four districts we presently have. When asked if there was a local office he would run for, specifically CEO of DeKalb, he would only state that he had not decided, and would have to take a serious look at the numbers before he would even consider such a move. He reiterated that he would seek no office where he did not have a reasonable chance of winning. As a Republican, Ruth would have a hard time trying to get DeKalb’s top job.

We also talked developement opportunities in South DeKalb. He saw opportunity for South DeKalb to have economic growth in the near future. His pro-buisness approach was refreshing. He said he would love to talk to businesses who have located in counties outside of DeKalb to help determine what was it about DeKalb that turned them away. He also said he would talk with businesses in DeKalb and ask them why they are in DeKalb. He would use that info to try and lure more businesses to DeKalb. Given it’s proximity to the airport and access to several major interstates, Ruth found it hard to believe that Dekalb could not attract more businesses especially outside of the perimeter area. He also talked about how more businesses in DeKalb would put less strain on families who now spend up to two hours daily traveling to and from their places of employment. This, he believes would have a positive impact on parents who find it hard to be more active in their kids education and social lives.

When I asked if a Republican could win an elected office in DeKalb, he said yes, but would have to make some serious progress in convincing the African-American vote in South DeKalb that Republicans have a plan that will bring jobs and economic growth to the area. He pointed out me a project in New York where faith based and business organizations are reviving communities by providing educational opportunities, housing, and business support to local communities all without government intervention. Ruth believes that government intervention is not the complete answer to the ills that affect DeKalb, but he also said the old “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” adage is a not the only answer either.

Ruth strikes me as a common sense person who would definitely abandon the old ways of doing business. He is young, intelligent and very deliberate in his thoughts and ideas. Could he win a seat in Congress from DeKalb? Probably not. Could he be the next CEO of DeKalb? I would not bet my paycheck on it. If he were to decide to run for office again, he would have a mighty hill to climb to overcome entrenched Democrat loyalty in DeKalb. He says that he made some mistakes in his run for Congress in 2010, but that he learned from those mistakes and would do things differently a second time around. I for one would like to see him run for CEO of DeKalb. If the citizens of DeKalb truly want to see this county rise again, electing a fresh face and inserting some new ideas into the conversation will go a long way in making that rise possible. DeKalb needs a new direction and a new mindset. If we continue to go down the path we are presently on we will never return to the days when DeKalb was a place people actually wanted to live and play in.