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Civic activists, elected officials offer hopes for DeKalb in 2014

1/3/2014, 6 a.m.

Kevin Chapman Jr., president of the Wesley Chapel Curb Taskforce

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Kevin Chapman

“I would like to see the new juvenile curfew enforced. It is scheduled to start in the new year and we need to enforce it.

I want to see Operation 2.0 implemented to improve the curb appeal of the county and to instill better pride in the county.

I want to see crime go down. We have had about 10 break-ins and two cars stolen in the last two weeks in our subdivision. One woman’s front door was kicked in and she packed up and left. One of the cars was stolen by a juvenile. I hope that would change.

I like where the county is going with interim CEO Lee May. We are seeing more being done.

I would like to see the county become more stable.

I hope to see full accreditation back for the county.

I would like to see the Burrell Ellis situation resolved, sooner than later. When you are paying for something twice, it means that something else is not being paid for. That money could go to pay police officers or for code enforcement.

I want the good ideas implemented. I want the landscaping, increased mowing and more code enforcement officers implemented first.

I don’t want Burrell Ellis back in office and you can quote me on that. He gave us the runaround. He would never respond to us. We sent certified mail to his office and got no response. It’s disheartening when you don’t get even an acknowledgment that he received it.”

Viola Davis, president of the Unhappy Taxpayer Voter Organization

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Viola Davis

“I’m hoping SACS fully restores DeKalb’s accreditation in 2014 after we’ve been on probation for a year. That would remove a lot of uncertainty and help us move forward.

Most of all, I’m hoping the state of Georgia removes DeKalb as a ‘donor’ county. Under the Quality Basic Education Act (1986), the state can take funds from counties considered to be property-tax rich and redistribute them to school systems in poor counties.

The state has taken about $100 million from us over the years. But our circumstances have changed. With neighborhoods leaving the county to form cities and after five years of recession and a real estate bust, we no longer have the tax base to be a donor county and it’s weighing heavily on our fiscal resources.

We’ve been pushing the state to change our status so that we no longer have the donor county obligation.

I think that would be the most positive development for the county in 2014.”

Deborah Jackson, mayor of Lithonia

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Deborah Jackson

“My hope is to see a more cohesive and stable county in 2014.

We have been racked with the situation with the School Board and the CEO. The citizens deserve a more stable leadership.

With the leadership that is in place now, I am already seeing an improvement in the relationship between the cities and counties.

We should take the opportunity to have a calm and rational conversation about the future of the county with the new cities, about the best way of being able to provide better services throughout the county so that we can have high expectation of quality wherever you live.