Pitching themselves as fighters against crime and corruption, both candidates for the DeKalb Commission argued Tuesday they’re the cure to the county’s problems.
Voters will have to decide who to believe in next week’s runoff election for Super District 7, which covers the eastern half of the county from Doraville to Stonecrest.
Greg Adams, an Emory University police officer, debated Randal Mangham, an attorney, during Tuesday’s candidate forum at the Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library, the only meeting between the two Democrats before the runoff.
Adams, a bishop for Restoration in Christ International Ministries, said he has the integrity and morals needed for the DeKalb Commission job. He received the most votes of nine candidates in the Nov. 8 general election.
“I’m somebody that you can depend on,” Adams said at the forum hosted by the DeKalb Republican Assembly. “The key thing we need is someone who’s going to be accountable and transparent to let us know exactly where our money is being spent.”
Mangham, a former state legislator, called for a deep audit of DeKalb’s government finances. He criticized abuse of government charge cards, but didn’t seem to know that most officials stopped using the cards more than a year ago.
“It’s now time for us to move forward with proven leadership, not to experiment with someone new,” Mangham said. “The No. 1 thing we must do is have transparency in government.”
Both candidates said they would improve law and order by supporting police officers. Adams proposed reducing how much officers pay for health and pension; Mangham said the county government should repair foreclosed homes for police to move into.
They also criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, which protests police violence against black people, saying instead that every life matters, regardless of race. Both candidates are black.
“Crime is being committed in the black community by black individuals, and where is this movement, Black Lives Matter?” Adams said. “The bottom line is they (police) put their lives on the line for you.”
Mangham called for training and support of police officers.
“All lives do matter,” Mangham said. “Our officers are leaving because they’re going to other places and finding a friendlier environment. I want to get incentives for officers to live in their neighborhoods, to get to know the people in their neighborhood.”
In response to a question from the audience, Mangham explained a $5,000 fine he received for numerous late filings of campaign contribution and financial disclosure reports during his time in the Georgia House of Representatives.
Mangham signed a notarized consent order in 2009 agreeing to the fine. He said he learned last week he still owed $3,500 of the fine, though he had been told he didn’t have an outstanding balance. He paid it within 24 hours.
He apologized and said DeKalb’s government needs to move beyond the corruption allegations and criminal convictions that have plagued it for years.
“DeKalb County has been in trouble. It’s time to put the past failures behind us,” Mangham said.
Adams didn’t attack Mangham for the fines, but Adams repeated his message of accountability.
“I’m somebody that you can depend on,” said Adams, who is not related to the DeKalb judge with the same name. “I don’t make promises that I can’t keep. The only promise I’m going to commit to is that I’m going to serve DeKalb County to the best of my ability.”
The winner of the runoff will replace former DeKalb Commissioner Stan Watson, who resigned in March to mount an unsuccessful campaign for county tax commissioner.