The only contested DeKalb County Commission race pits against each other two men who previously challenged suspended CEO Burrell Ellis for the job of chief executive officer.
Stan Watson lost his bid against Ellis in 2008, before winning the District 7 “super district” to represent half of DeKalb in 2010. Gregory Adams failed to qualify for the District 7 race that year, but won 20 percent of the vote in his 2012 loss to Ellis in a three-way race.
Watson, the incumbent county commissioner and a state representative for 11 years, said he is seeking re-election to continue his focus on economic development and keeping tabs on the county’s $1.35 billion water/sewer overhaul.
Adams, the challenger and a former DeKalb police officer who took a job with Emory University police to run for office, said he is running to counter the image of corruption that has plagued DeKalb in recent years.
With no Republican in the race, the winner of the Democratic primary Tuesday will capture the seat. Other incumbent commissioners, Larry Johnson of District 3 and Jeff Rader of District 2, are running unopposed for their seats.
Watson was elected on a platform of pursuing alternative revenue for the county and pushing for more development in the mostly residential community.
He has since become chairman of the commission’s public works committee, which oversees potholes and paving, in addition to projects and contracts in the massive water/sewer system upgrade partially mandated in a consent decree from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“In the next four years, there are real challenges to overseeing that consent decree,” Watson said. “There needs to be a focus on that management and still making sure we deliver services to our residents.”
Adams said county government must first rebuild trust with its residents, given the county’s scandal-plagued year.
Ellis faces 14 felonies accusing him of shaking down county vendors for campaign cash and punishing those who did not give.
A federal indictment against two South Carolina businessmen alleging racketeering and bribery includes two counts of fraud for a kickback scheme involving an elected DeKalb official who is not named. No one in DeKalb has been charged in that case.
Adams said his background, which includes a stint in the Army and 18 years as senior pastor of the True Church of God in Christ, show voters they can trust him.
“I want to bring back the reputation DeKalb County had when I moved here 23 years ago, as a welcoming, solid community for your family and business,” Adams said. “It starts with rebuilding our confidence in government.”
The winner of the District 7 seat will earn $38,374 a year in the role. The four-year term begins Jan. 1, 2015.