Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May completes second year in charge

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May has now been running the county’s government for two years, a time in which he’s called for investigations and supported ethics reforms while overseeing a government in crisis.

May still has the “interim” title in front of his name, even though a jury convicted suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis this month. Ellis won’t be booted from office unless he loses his appeals, resigns or is removed by the DeKalb Board of Ethics.

May has been the county’s leader since July 16, 2013, when Gov. Nathan Deal suspended Ellis. May was previously the presiding officer of the DeKalb Commission, representing southeast DeKalb. He is expected to run for CEO in 2016.

Much has changed during May’s time in charge of the 722,000-person county:

  • May ordered an outside investigation of corruption and incompetence in March. The inquiry, led by former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and well-known investigator Richard Hyde, is ongoing.
  • The Georgia Legislature passed bills supported by May to create an independent county auditor, remove political appointments of Ethics Board members and strengthen contracting laws. The initiatives arose in part from the May’s Operations Task Force.
  • May’s proposed mid-year budget includes a modest property tax rate decrease, and last year’s budget included raises for county employees for the first time in six years.
  • About 6,500 potholes have been filled.
  • May resigned his county commission seat, clearing the way for a special election to restore representation to his former southeast DeKalb district. Mereda Davis Johnson, an attorney who is married to U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, won the seat in a runoff election this week.
  • About 160 police officers and 100 firefighters have been hired.
  • One-day-per-week trash and recycling pickup began this month.
  • The Purchasing and Contracting Department was reorganized.