Candidates for the District 1 seat on the DeKalb County Commission speak to members of the Tucker Civic Assoication on Sept. 18. The candidates, left to right, area: (seated) Holmes E. Pyles, Tom Owens, Wendy Butler, Larry Danese and (standing) Nancy Jester.

Corruption in DeKalb County government and how to get rid of it dominated presentations by candidates seeking to succeed long-time Commissioner Elaine Boyer, who last month resigned the day before she was charged by federal authorities with misusing county funds.

“Welcome to the District 1ethics seminar. That’s what the District 1 race is going to be,” candidate Larry Danese of Brookhaven joked with the audience attending a Sept. 18 candidate forum in Tucker.

Boyer has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and mail fraud conspiracy. She is to be sentenced in December.

Meanwhile, suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis is facing trial on charges he used his position to force local business owners to contribute to his campaign.

Five candidates seek the District 1 seat Boyer resigned. They are: Danese, a retired engineer who ran against Boyer in the past; Nancy Jester of Dunwoody, a former DeKalb school board member; Wendy Butler of Brookhaven, a lawyer and MARTA board member; and retirees Tom Owens of Doraville and Holmes E. Pyles of Smoke Rise.

They met onstage at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church during a candidate forum sponsored by the Tucker Civic Association. District 1 covers much of north DeKalb, including the cities of Brookhaven and Dunwoody.

Jester promised to post her office’s spending online so her constituents could see where money was going and said she had the financial background to keep tabs on count finances. Butler said she had helped clean up MARTA’s financial troubles and called for regular audits of county spending and a stronger county ethics law.

Danese said he had 20 years of community service and that he wanted to draw the line on county taxes.

Owens, who filed ethics complaints against Boyer and other commissioners, said he would not sit in “an air-conditioned office” if elected, but instead would be “out in the field.” He also called for “third-party oversight” of county spending. “I want to know the truth and I want the public to know what’s going on,” he said.

And Pyles said he would not take any campaign contributions. Asked what should be done to make sure the county government was transparent, Pyles suggested that candidates be given lie-detector tests. “It’d be very simple,” he said. “Every time a person comes up for a race, give him a polygraph test.”

One reply on “DeKalb District 1 commission candidates talk about ways to clean up DeKalb County”

  1. Great piece in the Sunday AJC regarding the Owens restraining order against the press in his DeKalb Commission race. Bells, whistles and grenades went off when we saw “Joe Newton” mentioned. Just an FYI, we know him quite well in Gwinnett County. He’s one of the vilest pieces of barely human excrement scum that I’ve met in my long lifetime. Several years ago we worked with the campaign of Commissioner Lorraine Green running against Commission Chair Charles Bannister for his seat. We had seen some sleaze in our political experiences, but nothing like this. Joe had a one-person PAC (later declared illegal by the state) that was funneling cash into the Bannister campaign by way of a “Lorraine is evil incarnate” effort. When Joe attacked a campaign ad made by Sheriff Butch Conway for Lorraine, it was discovered that Joe had a 60 plus page (publically available) “rap sheet” – mostly for punching assorted women and various petty crimes. At one of Lorraine’s debates she had pulled up and parked and phoned her husband, pleading for an escort past Joe (he had posted himself outside) to get into the building safely.

    At the time Joe had listed himself as retired from AT&T, and could produce no records of contributions into his PAC, yet was spending $5,000 per full page ad (going by memory on that one) in the Gwinnett Daily Post for several anti-Lorraine rants. The IRS was not happy in their discovery of those issues (as in from whence said presumably undeclared income might have come).

    Joe was promised a sweet appointment by either the now “resigned in lieu of perjury charges” Bannister or “vacationing in federal prison” Commissioner Shirley Lasseter (the latter a Bannister minion and guaranteed vote), but when both were elected the promise to Joe was rescinded. Imagine that – no honor among thieves. Anyway, my bet here is that Joe is acting as a paid political hit man and that the utmost care should be exercised. Basically, he’s nuts and will do just about anything.

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