Though the members of the Governor’s Commission on Brookhaven haven’t hashed out their meeting schedule yet, the commission’s chairman is certain about one thing: its meetings will be open for anyone who is interested in listening.
“They will be public meetings. The act actually cites that the commission will be subject to the Open Meetings act,” said Ben Vinson, the chairman of the commission.
The five-member commission, which was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal on Aug. 31, features one representative from each of the new city’s council districts and a chairman chosen citywide. Vinson said the commission members are now working on finding a regular location for their meetings.
Vinson said the commission will likely meet every week for the next three months until the new mayor and Brookhaven City Council are in place.
“We will pick a time and a place and have a regular schedule so members of the media and the public will know where to go,” Vinson said.
The Governor’s Commission on Brookhaven will help the new city get off the ground by doing things such as negotiating with DeKalb County over service delivery and researching candidates for key positions such as city manager. Vinson said the commission will present the new city council with a written report of its recommendations.
“Our general role is to serve as a transition from unincorporated DeKalb to the city of Brookhaven,” Vinson said. “We have to be a bridge and do as much as we can while campaigns are going to help them get up and running as fast as possible.”
And the commission will need to work fast. Elections for mayor and council are set for Nov. 6. With 24 candidates running for the five positions, a Dec. 4 runoff election likely will be necessary. The city is scheduled to officially begin operations at midnight Dec. 17.
“It’ll be fun and I’m looking forward to the challenge. No doubt it’s a tight time frame,” Vinson said.
The appointment of the committee came with great anticipation. Deal waited until Aug. 31 – a month after voters approved the creation of the city – to announce the members. He had until Sept. 1 to do so. A spokesman for the governor said his office had received many letters from people hoping to be named to the committee.
Some of Brookhaven’s mayoral candidates weighed in on the governor’s selections.
“I’m happy the governor took such care to appoint such professional people willing to serve,” said J.Max Davis, who is running for mayor. “I think it’s good the governor reached out to people who weren’t obvious choices with a long history of community service.”
Sandy Murray, who is also running to be the city’s first mayor, said she believes the public should have been involved in the process of composing the commission.
“The meetings to determine who will serve on the Governor’s Commission have taken place behind closed doors,” Murray said in an email. “Even though I disapprove strongly of the process used by the governor to select members of the commission, I commit to working closely with the commission now as a candidate for mayor of Brookhaven.”