The AJC reported today that the interim CEO for DeKalb County, Lee May, will not stand for election to a full term this year.
“It was a trying time. No one wants to see your name plastered in the paper,” said May, now two-and-a-half years into a “temporary” tenure as CEO. “Ultimately the decision I’m making is one that my wife and I have made, and we’re not feeling pressure from anyone.”
May’s decision could be a signal that Michael Thurmond will run for the job, which would crystallize the field. Thurmond, a former Georgia labor commissioner who most recently led DeKalb’s public school turnaround following its near-disaccreditation, had a substantial lead over other potential CEO candidates in an HEG/Apache poll conducted last month. Thurmond and May are also friends. One might infer that May knows something of Thurmond’s plans, though the former U.S. Senate candidate has not formally announced his intentions.
A Thurmond run might cause other candidates to re-evaluate their plans as well.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Sam Olens has issued an unofficial opinion on the removal of Harmel Codi from DeKalb’s audit oversight board, calling it unlawful. Olens’ opinion said that an incumbent can only be removed “through compliance with the established statutory procedures, which may include providing the incumbent with notice and an opportunity for a hearing on the reasons for the removal.” Olens also said that the reasons given by State Sen. Gloria Butler, leader of DeKalb’s senate delegation, either did not apply to Codi or were not satisfactory reasons for removal by statute.
The audit oversight board is tasked with recommending a powerful internal auditor for DeKalb County government, one that would be required to report financial irregularity immediately to the public as it is discovered and could not be removed by the county government. Codi, an outspoken critic of DeKalb government practices, ostensibly drew Butler’s disapproval when she called for Lee May’s resignation … though Butler has yet to answer direct questions about the timing of her move to replace Codi on the board.
Olens’s opinion is unofficial. Codi has pledged to participate in audit oversight board meetings as a member. The board canceled its meetings after Codi’s removal. We have yet to see if Olens’ opinion will be respected, and how the board will proceed.