Bob Ellis

Bob Ellis.

Occupation: Vice President, Product Management & Training, CNA Financial

Previous elected offices held: Fulton County Commissioner since 2014..

Other community service experience: WellStar North Fulton Hospital, Advisory Board; Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority, Board Member; Atlanta-Fulton County Water Resources Commission, Board Member; Fulton County Employees Retirement System, Trustee; Veterans Empowerment Organization, Inc., Former Board Member.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

The key motivations for me running for office are serving the citizens of District 2 and Fulton and ensuring that Fulton government is effective in meeting citizen needs. I have lived in this community for over 25 years and have a vested stake in ensuring that the citizens of District 2 have strong representation and voice in county government.  My professional background allows me the opportunity to apply my experience to ensure that Fulton government continues to be sound financially and operationally and strengthen its services to citizens.

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

Over the past six years, the county has made services more accessible for the citizens of District 2. The Fulton County Customer Service Center in Alpharetta, opened in 2015, is one significant example. Making services for public health, mental health, seniors and the developmentally disabled more available and accessible for north Fulton residents is a key priority for me. A large facility was recently purchased by the county in central north Fulton and over the next few years this facility will house a developmental disabilities day center, senior center and provide an array of public health and behavioral health services.

Why should voters keep you in this office?

I serve with integrity, listen and act. My focus on fiscal responsibility and smart budgeting led to six straight years of reduced millage rates, a doubled fiscal reserve requirement and significant investments in our libraries, water and sewer systems, behavioral health and customer service. I worked to create a county Audit Committee and whistleblower line and led a complete overhaul of the county’s public health function that now plays a vital role in COVID response. I don’t shrink from challenge: On behalf of taxpayers, I took on the Fulton tax assessors and state of Georgia in noteworthy litigation and won.

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

COVID-19 presents multiple challenges and has required a multi-faceted response. The key priority is the health, safety and well-being of county citizens and employees. At the outset of the pandemic, Fulton implemented a robust public health response, including a leading approach to testing, providing emergency economic relief and resident support, and providing services safely for our citizens and employees. The pandemic requires an active and evolving response and the focus on public health, safety-net services and safely providing services remains. Our specific action steps will continue to change as the impact of the pandemic evolves.

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

Policing takes place at the local level and Fulton has multiple law enforcement entities whose dedicated men and women carry out vital activity for our citizens. Good policing supports strong, healthy communities. Trust in law enforcement is critical. That trust is fostered with transparency and insight into police policy and procedures, routine reporting and analysis of data, and appropriate accountability for violation of policy and procedure. If each police entity in Fulton (city, county, schools) focuses on those elements, the appropriate changes required by a respective entity will be clear and Fulton will collectively strengthen public safety for all citizens.

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?

An area of impactful collaboration has been in transportation where the parties worked together to successfully adopt a TSPLOST, which provided for a specific funding mechanism for numerous specified transportation projects throughout the county, which have had a meaningful impact in all of our communities. The biggest area of opportunity is in criminal justice and the need for stronger coordination with local police departments and the Fulton sheriff and district attorney. With a newly elected sheriff and district attorney, I’m looking forward to positive changes.

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