In the coming Age of Trump, local politics will matter more than ever.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the DeKalb county commission race ended for me, and I’ve had some time to process what happened and where to go from here. Gregory Adams, a police officer will face Randal Mangham, an attorney and former state representative, in a December 6 runoff.
I’ve spoken at length with both. I believe Adams is the better choice for the job, given what we’re facing today.
I’m encouraged by Adams understanding of the nuances of the public argument about police misconduct and policing issues in DeKalb County today.
The force has been bleeding talent for years to affluent cities like Sandy Springs and is understaffed by at least 300 positions. DeKalb’s police have been politicized to some degree. And they’re often substituting in a role better served by our crumbling social services infrastructure – cops as social workers. Crime deters growth.
Pay is driving away good officers, but so is a sense that there’s a leadership vacuum. Right now, no one on the commission has law enforcement experience. Adams is best positioned to advocate for both the big and the granular changes to solve policing problems. Adams supports body cameras and external review of use-of-force, and is deeply concerned about the role of mental health response in policing. He also supports a raise in salaries. He’s going to be able to make credible arguments to his peers on the commission about the need for change here, arguments that will also be credible to officers in the field.
Adams has also been involved in homelessness services. He’s a former board member of Project3Sixty, a shelter and rehabilitation nonprofit based in Lawrenceville. I think Adams has better experience here. Modern policing has to break the connection between homelessness, mental illness, substance dependency and prison. I’m hoping to work with Adams and the county, however I can, to tackle this problem.
I’m also assured that he’ll address some of the quality of life community issues I encountered over the course of the campaign – drainage issues on Rockbridge Road, construction delays at the new animal shelter, extending the moratorium on shutting off water until the billing mess has a plan, reviewing the proposed club district on Memorial Drive and the like.
Adams plainly benefited from the power of ballot placement and the fact that he shares the same name as a long-serving superior court judge in DeKalb County. Sometimes we get lucky. That said, this is going to be bloody confusing for anyone writing about this place for a while.
“But … but … Larry Johnson is supporting him! He’ll vote with the South DeKalb guys all the time!”
To a degree, it doesn’t matter. Commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton is being replaced by Steve Bradshaw. For truly stupid self-serving things like the stadium deal, they just won’t have the votes. I think Johnson’s been really, really wrong at times, but I’m not convinced he’s actually corrupt, and the distinction is important.
I also have reason to believe Adams will be less susceptible to political pressure than Mangham. Adams was plainly willing to take on the establishment. He ran against the incumbent commissioner Stan Watson for this very seat two years ago, and Watson was a principal author of the county’s litany of political abuses. Adams’ act of political courage should have been recognized in the moment.
Mangham has a strong relationship with the immigrant community, something that could prove valuable to the county if he wins this race. He appears focused on infrastructure issues. He spoke at length on the campaign trail about empowering black-owned businesses and drawing more money from the federal government to help the county.
I question how well that might work in a Republican federal administration, of course. I expect massive cuts to anything related to spending in urban America, all double-talk aside.
Mangham’s conduct as a candidate also raises questions. Continue reading “This Gregory Adams Is Good, Too.”