Voters continued rebuilding DeKalb’s government Tuesday with the election of Greg Adams as a county commissioner, the latest incoming leader tasked with overcoming years of scandal and distrust.
Adams, an Emory University police officer, will join a slate of fresh officials who say they’ll do a better, more responsible job of representing residents. He’ll join other newly elected local officials — including incoming CEO Mike Thurmond, District Attorney Sherry Boston and Commissioner Steve Bradshaw — who have promised reform.
Adams defeated Randal Mangham, an attorney, in a runoff election Tuesday to represent DeKalb Commission Super District 7, comprised of about 350,000 people in the eastern half of the county, including Doraville, Tucker, Stone Mountain, Lithonia, Pine Lake and unincorporated areas.
Adams said he’ll fight for effective government, a stronger county police force and economic development of blighted areas.
“The people realize that I’m a person who will not quit. I will not relent, and I’m not a person who’s going to back off on the issues,” Adams said. “I intend to work and serve the people of DeKalb County with honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability.”
Adams will become the fourth new DeKalb commissioner elected in the last two years. He’ll replace former Commissioner Stan Watson, who resigned in March to make an unsuccessful run for county tax commissioner.
The DeKalb Commission will grapple with problems that have been around for years: pothole-filled roads, high water bills, police officer retention, business growth and a spill-prone sewage system.
Voters interviewed Tuesday said they want to reboot the county’s government with officials who will work together and be more responsive to the community.
“We need somebody who says what they’re going to do and stick to it,” said Joyce Green after voting for Adams at New Bethel AME Church.
Temeshia Jones, who voted for Mangham, said she wanted a commissioner who will restore DeKalb by repaving roads and raising property values.
“If we can get good people at the top, we can turn DeKalb around,” she said.
Adams, a bishop for Restoration in Christ International Ministries, had previously campaigned for office three times. He ran for DeKalb CEO in 2012, for Commission District 7 in 2014 and for Commission District 5 in 2015.
He said one of his priorities will be the revitalization of the former General Motors plant in Doraville, where developers have been seeking public financing of infrastructure improvements that would attract businesses to the area.
The DeKalb Commission is considering approval of a funding mechanism called a tax allocation district, which would help pay for a tunnel and street to the Doraville MARTA station, currently walled off from the site. The DeKalb school board hasn’t signed on to the TAD, but the county commission and city of Doraville could move forward without the school system’s participation and tax money.
Besides Adams, the overhauled DeKalb Commission includes Bradshaw, who defeated Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton in a July primary election runoff; Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, who won a special election runoff in July 2015 to replace Lee May after he became the county’s interim CEO; and Commissioner Nancy Jester, who won a special election runoff in December 2014 after former Commissioner Elaine Boyer pleaded guilty to fraud charges.
The three longer-serving members of the commission are Kathie Gannon, Larry Johnson and Jeff Rader.
Newly elected DeKalb officials
CEO Mike Thurmond
District Attorney Sherry Boston
Commissioner Greg Adams
Commissioner Steve Bradshaw
Tax Commissioner Irvin Johnson
Solicitor-General Donna Coleman-Stribling
Sen. Tonya Anderson
Rep. Meagan Hanson
Rep. Vernon Jones
Rep. Renitta Shannon