Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May, who has overseen the county government for a tumultuous 2½ years, announced Friday he won’t run for election and will leave office when the current term expires at the end of the year.
May said his decision wasn't influenced by a corruption report that called for him to resign, but he acknowledged that the job has been difficult.
“It was a trying time. No one wants to see your name plastered in the paper,” May said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Ultimately the decision I’m making is one that my wife and I have made, and we’re not feeling pressure from anyone.”
May, 40, said he will leave politics and pursue a career in ministry. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University.
May became DeKalb's chief executive when Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him in July 2013 to replace CEO Burrell Ellis, who was elected to a four-year term in 2012. Deal had suspended Ellis after he was indicted, and a jury last year convicted Ellis of perjury and attempted extortion.
In an attempt to root out corruption, May ordered an outside investigation of the county by former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde.
Their Sept. 30 report accused May of obstructing their investigation, improperly borrowing money from a subordinate and failing to provide leadership.
The GBI said last month it won't launch further investigations based on the report because its allegations didn't amount to crimes.
“That served as a level of vindication for me,” May said Friday. “It was an unfortunate situation of how that progressed. Remember, I called for the special investigation, and unfortunately the individuals that were investigating us took a different tack, but that had no influence on my decision.”
May said he'll support former DeKalb schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond if he decides to run for DeKalb CEO. Two others have announced their candidacies: former DeKalb Commissioner Connie Stokes and retired MARTA employee Calvin Sims.
Candidates will qualify to run in March, and the primary election is May 24.