Nancy Jester

Nancy Jester.

Occupation: Commissioner, DeKalb County Board of Commissioners

Previous elected offices held: Commissioner, Board of Education Member

Other community service experience: Peachtree Gateway Partnership Board Member; School Council member; Hawthorne Foundation Chair; ERISA Study Group Treasurer; Shallowford Presbyterian Elder; Shallowford Presbyterian Preschool Chair and Treasurer; Math Olympiad Coach.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

I am running to continue the work I have accomplished reforming the fiscal management of DeKalb, improving procurement procedures, and strengthening ethics in government. I bring unique, financial expertise to the board, having worked as an actuarial consultant. My professional experience has enabled me to guide the board to improve financial reporting and accountability. Most importantly, I appreciate the opportunity to serve all the families, residents and neighbors throughout the district and the county. DeKalb is our home and where my husband and I have chosen to raise our three children. It is an honor to serve this amazing community.

What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it?

There are two. The first is continuing to provide robust oversight over all financial matters. As an actuarial consultant, I bring an important professional expertise and experience to the board. The second is upgrading the aging infrastructure, especially the water and sewer system. Since my time on the board, DeKalb has increased the capital improvement expenditures significantly and improved the financial management of the infrastructure programs.

Why should voters keep you in this office?

I have a record of accomplishments. My colleagues have appointed me chair of the Finance Committee for three years. I completely reorganized the committee and developed financial reporting tools and policies. Because of this work, the county’s bond rating has been increased twice. There have been no increases in the aggregate millage rate during my time as chair. I worked with my colleagues to develop a procurement review policy. Now the independent internal auditor reviews procurements over $3 million to ensure they are done correctly and their costs are supported. In 2019, this saved over $30 million in unnecessary expenditures.

What would be your policy priority in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic?

There are five cities in District 1: Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville, Dunwoody and Tucker. As chair of the Finance Committee, I worked to make sure cities were provided an allocation of federal CARES Act funding. Getting money to the cities, and thus, closer to the people was an important step. I sponsored and passed legislation that created a $15 million small businesses financial assistance grant fund. I recognize and have supported legislation to provide funds for housing and utility payment assistance. I am also working on funding additional public health infrastructure improvements, such mobile health units and increased testing.

What policy changes, if any, should result from this year’s protests about racism and police brutality?

The DeKalb County Police Department has a consistent record of community engagement with those they protect. I continue to support additional training for our police, especially in the areas of communication, mental health crisis intervention and de-escalation methods. I have demonstrated my support for our vibrant and diverse community by serving as a member of the Public Safety Committee. We have reviewed policing policies and practices to make sure they are consistent with our values. I want all of DeKalb’s children to grow and learn in a safe environment, supported by a well-trained and caring public safety team.

What is an example of an area where the county and local cities are working well together, and what is an example of an area that needs improvement?

As the commissioner, I am proud of the work we have done to improve and augment the green spaces within the cities of District 1. I have provided commissioner-directed funds to improve and/or expand the parks in Dunwoody, Brookhaven and Tucker. I have directed commissioner funding to study trail connectivity with Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville, Dunwoody and Tucker. I look forward to building on my record of success to improve relationships and taxpayer accountability within DeKalb and with our city partners.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.