Wanted: Applicants for DeKalb County’s reconstituted ethics board

Board of Ethics Officer Stacey Kalberman speaks the DeKalb Board of Ethics meeting Tuesday, August 1, 2017. (Rebecca Breyer)
Board of Ethics Officer Stacey Kalberman speaks the DeKalb Board of Ethics meeting Tuesday, August 1, 2017. (Rebecca Breyer)

DeKalb’s latest ethics referendum passed overwhelmingly, meaning the county’s long-dormant ethics board will soon be reconstituted.

But before that can happen, new members must be selected. And the application period is now open.

“The DeKalb Ethics Appointing Committee is in support of a transparent, uniform and coordinated process,” said state Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, said in a press release. “This application process will allow us to identify DeKalb residents who represent and serve their community in a unique way.”

Under the changes adopted by voters earlier this month, DeKalb’s state House and Senate delegations will appoint three members apiece to the panel responsible for investigating complaints against local officials and other employees. DeKalb County Tax Commissioner Irvin Johnson will appoint the seventh full-time board member, while Superior Court clerk Debra DeBerry will select two alternates.

The entities are soliciting applications through a single process that will remain open through noon on Tuesday, Dec. 1. Finalists will then be interviewed during the week of Dec. 9, and members and alternates will be selected by Dec. 18.

By law, the new board must be formed by Dec. 31.

Applications can be found here.

All applicants must live in DeKalb County. Officials said that “attention will be paid to racial, geographic, gender and professional diversity among the candidates.”

More information about requirements and duties for potential ethics board members can be found here.

DeKalb County’s ethics board has been largely neutered since 2018, when a Georgia Supreme Court ruling found that using private, non-elected entities to appoint some of the panel’s members was unconstitutional. The new rules rectify that situation while also making other changes to ethics oversight in the county.

A newly created “ethics administrator” will be responsible for collecting and documenting all complaints before passing them along to the ethics board. The board would then decide if complaints merit a full-fledged investigation and, if so, hand them over to the ethics officer.

The new legislation also prohibits employees of DeKalb County’s purchasing and contracting department from accepting “any gift of value from anyone who has had or may reasonably be anticipated to have any business with or before such department.”

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