DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis
DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis

DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis defended government employees and the work done by government during a speech to members of the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce.

“Can we imagine, even for a moment, life without government? Especially life without a democratic form of government?” Ellis asked in a speech on Dec. 5. “Imagine if we didn’t have hard-working people who got up every morning to pave our roads, teach our children….Imagine what our world would look like without true public servants.”

But Ellis told about 88 members of the DeKalb chamber gathered at Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Clarkston for the organization’s First Monday Lunch that public employees often are unfairly demonized and “often miscast as self-serving and over-compensated.”

“Public service is what makes America great,” he said.

He called on community members to “speak up openly” in praise of the work done by governments and to work together “so we might thrive together.”

Ellis also used the speech as a chance to praise programs operated as partnerships among governments and among public and private institutions. He touted several DeKalb County programs, including one to use natural gas in county vehicles — which he called a “clean, green and safe technology.”

He also asked chamber members to promote passage of the 1-cent transportation sales tax, which goes to a vote next summer. The tax would raise money in an 11-county area and be used on a pre-approved list of regional and local projects within the area.

“We have much to gain in transportation improvements in the county,” he said, but “our citizens do not live in isolation” so they also would benefit from the regional projects.

District 2 County Commissioner Jeff Rader said afterwards that Ellis used the opportunity to promote his achievements in office. “I think the campaign season has begun,” Rader said.

District 6 County Commissioner Kathie Gannon endorsed the idea that people need to work together.

“Times are so tough people are looking for people to blame,” she said. “It’s not a blame thing. It’s a pull-together ting. We all need to work together.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.