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Representative Stan Watson To Seek DeKalb County CEO Seat

 

 

 

By Maynard Eaton

Political Editor

 

 

“I want to do extraordinary things with ordinary people” – Stan Watson

 

 

Rep. Stan Watson, the wily and widely popular chairman of the DeKalb County House delegation and former president of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, has set sail on a 14-month long political voyage to become DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer --- one of the state’s most unique and powerful elective offices.  Watson is the first of many expected candidates hoping to succeed Vernon Jones, the current CEO.

 

DeKalb County is better then what we read in the paper, better then what we see in the news, better people,” Watson told a rousing campaign kickoff reception at the Old Decatur Courthouse.  DeKalb County is not the only place where crime occurs.”

 

Watson is seeking to captain a county that has transformed from bedroom suburbia to virtually an urban city of some 750 thousand residents.  The 10 year state house veteran, who prides himself on effectively working both sides of the political aisle, plans to make his big-city county a prominent player in state and regional politics.  Communities like Decatur, Avondale, Lithonia, Dunwoody and Stone Mountain are now areas of influence and high incomes.

 

“That’s the skill and leadership that I bring, a consensus-building spirit not a divide and conquer spirit, but just a spirit of cooperation,” Watson said in his speech to 200 or so supporters. “All you have to do is look at what we did in the General Assembly the last few years. Went from Democrat to Republican [but] we still did what we needed to do for DeKalb County. DeKalb must be a more prominent player in the region.”

 

Over the past ten years or so, Watson has strategically tapped the pulse of DeKalb’s divergent communities, while also amassing a wealth of political clout.  His vehicle has been a spirited monthly Saturday morning session at his church, Piney Grove Baptist that draws hundreds of DeKalb homeowners, activists and professionals, and has become a clearing house for issues and community concerns.

 

“Stan has proven himself over the years,” says Dr. Elmore Alexander, a Tucker family practitioner. “I’ve watched him on that first Saturday when he hosts the community forum and he deals with the touch questions.  He doesn’t back down.  So who else could be better? There might be some [other] people who have great credentials but they won’t be as good as what Stan’s bringing to the table.”

 

 

“I know that he is honest, but Stan loves DeKalb County and I know he’s going to do the right thing,” adds his neighbor of 20 years, former DeKalb and Fulton County police Chief Louis Graham.  “He’s even-handed, he’s not quick to anger and he listens.

 

 

“I’m going to take a bottoms-up approach to government,” Watson says.  “That means I’m going to go around talking to everybody; let people say what they think is best for DeKalb County.  Learning to talk to people, but most of all learning to listen to people. Ideas come from people.  I’m going to find out what people think.”

 

 

Once of the most pressing problems facing the next CEO is the disaffection of north DeKalb County, and particularly the Dunwoody community which wants to secede and form an independent city of its own.  So far those efforts have been thwarted by the majority of DeKalb’s legislators.

 

“As CEO, he would be the person to make sure that we unify with the citizens of Dunwoody, and make sure that they stay in DeKalb County. He’s the person we need to lead us,” opined Dekalb Rep. Stephanie Benfield.

 

“Stan and I don’t always agree but he’s fair and he gives people a chance to express their views and be heard,” says Rep. Kevin Levitas, who voted for Dunwoody’s city hood bid.

 

During an interview, Watson said he could have easily continued to win re-election to his 91st House District seat and retired with a healthy pension, but he felt the CEO position was a calling he could not resist.

 

“We need a new horizon and some fresh ideas,” said Watson, a devout Christian.  “We need to bring the county back together again.  We are a little fragmented.  We have to mobilize our strength, and our strength is people.  The problem with DeKalb right now is image and perception.  It needs to be changed, and I’m the person to change it. I can bring the bacon home from the state, as well as, the federal level.”

 

 

 

 

You are Visitor #  Hit Counter   Updated Wednesday April 05, 2006 12:40:42

 

 

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