Does DeKalb Still Need a CEO?

District 1 Commissioner Elaine Boyer says absolutely not.

The position of county CEO has for years been on shaky ground in DeKalb County. 

Sitting CEO Burrell Ellis has faced questions about the position's necessity in the past and successfully fended them off. 

But after the district attorney raided Ellis' home as part of an investigation into the county's watershed operations last month, local media and elected officials have questioned whether it might be worth pushing to eliminate the position once and for all.

Among many defenses of the position, Ellis has said the CEO position is an effective part of a system of checks and balances to local governance, not unlike the federal government's executive branch. Critics of the position have said the county would be better run with a county manager answerable to the board of commissioners.

Ellis defended himself in that same AJC story: 

He cited the system for his first-term success in cutting $130 million from the county’s budget, in partnership with the commission.

“This is the hallmark of a healthy government that is acting in the best interest of the people,” Ellis said. “As this idea continues to come up, I will continue to remind our state elected officials and others that we are proud of the work we have accomplished in DeKalb County.”

In that same story, Emory Morsberger, president of the Stone Mountain Community Improvement District, said tension between the CEO and the board of commissioners is harmful.

“A manager is a professional, not a politician,” Morsberger said to the paper. He said politicians “can still run for county chairman and the professional can help us move forward. That’s not happening now.”

DeKalb County District 1 Commissioner Elaine Boyer, a frequent critic of the CEO position, said she still supported its elimination Tuesday. 

"This form of government doesn't work," she said. "I'm in my 21st year [as a commissioner], it does not work. We're not the federal government. We're local." 


Any change to the form of government would need to be handled through the legislature and voted on by residents.

What do you think about the county CEO position? Should it be eliminated? Tell us in the comments section below.

A February 06, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Yes, it should be eliminated.
A February 06, 2013 at 06:43 PM
No other County has a CEO and they don't have the problems that face Dekalb. This form of government has proven itself not to work
Ed February 07, 2013 at 04:09 AM
I've always like the way Ms. Boyer thinks.
A February 07, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Ed, I agree. We need more like her
Delia February 08, 2013 at 04:42 AM
I've just moved here and I would like someone to explain how Dekalb county is governed. CEO and commissioners is a foreign concept to me. Who does what and why? Are these positions appointed or elected? Who does the appointing? When are the elections? What impact will the investigation of Mr Ellis have on the governance of the county? How do I get my voice heard if I have an issue? If these are too many questions to be answered in this forum please direct me to where I can get more information. I am a concerned citizen.


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