Former commissioner, Ga. senator Connie Stokes running for DeKalb CEO

Connie Stokes, the Georgia Democratic Party’s 2014 candidate for lieutenant governor, announced Friday she’s running for DeKalb County CEO.

Stokes, a business marketing consultant, has previously held public office as a DeKalb commissioner and a state senator.

The winner of this year’s DeKalb CEO election will lead a county with 722,000 residents and more than 6,000 government employees.

“Every day is crime and corruption, and it’s got to stop,” Stokes said in an interview. “I’m running because we really need a new direction.”

Stokes is an early entrant to the race, though other prominent DeKalb politicians might campaign as well.

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May and former DeKalb schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond have said they’re considering whether to seek election for leadership of the county government.

Stokes said she would work to make DeKalb safer, keep government honest and reduce unemployment.

“I will speak up, stand up and speak out for the people,” she said. “That’s so important to have the courage to lead. We could get so much more done.”

Besides Stokes, the only other person who has announced a candidacy is Calvin Sims, a retired MARTA employee who previously ran for DeKalb commission and CEO seats.

Sims said corruption in DeKalb has created a stigma that harms economic development.

“DeKalb County’s best days are ahead, and the problems we have are many, but they are manageable and we must overcome them,” Sims said in a statement. “We must deal collectively with corruption and unethical behavior of public officials at the ballot box, removing them from office.”

Candidates will file for office in March, and the Democratic primary election will be held May 24. The general election will be held Nov. 8.