Codi, Mangham Questionnaires, DeKalb District 5 Special Election
(APN) ATLANTA — In Atlanta Progressive News’s coverage of the upcoming Tuesday, June 16, 2015 Special Election for DeKalb County Commission District 5, this article presents the questionnaire responses by two candidates, Harmel Codi and Gina Mangham.
Under separate cover, APN has published the responses of George Turner, Gregory Adams, and Jerome Edmondson:
Candidates Vaughn Irons, Kathryn Rice, and Kenneth Saunders III have not provided their responses. APN sent the questionnaires by email, and spoke with the candidates or their campaigns by phone to confirm receipt.
Candidates Mereda Johnson and Gwen Green did not respond to voice messages seeking an email address to which the questionnaires should be sent.
Codi formerly served as the Senior Finance Director for DeKalb County, and says she was instrumental in bringing forth concerns regarding suspicious activities for contracts with county leadership. She is also an entrepreneur, educational consultant, and advocate for children.
Codi was also one of the loudest voices calling for this Special Election over the last two years, as the District went without voting representation when Commissioner Lee May was appointed Interim CEO.
Mangham has served as a Legislative Aide in the Georgia House of Representatives, Managing Attorney for Legal Aid, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Partnership Community Development Corporation in Atlanta, and a Financial Analyst with IBM. Mangham was also the first wife of former State Rep. Randal Mangham.
She too had advocated for a Special Election.
Mangham tells Atlanta Progressive News that she was instrumental in the struggle to protect the rights of public housing residents around the time of the Olympics, adding that, she brought a successful lawsuit on behalf of Techwood Homes residents who had been promised the right to move back to Centennial Place–the mixed income housing that replaced Techwood–but who had initially been denied the chance to move back.
The responses by Codi and Mangham are as follows:
WHAT REFORMS ARE NEEDED, IF ANY, IN THE DEKALB CEO’S POWER?
CODI: I do not believe that there is an issue with the CEO style of government in the
county. However, I do have a concern with the type of leaders we elect to office. Some have been proven to be ethically challenged and these are the ones that create most of our issues in this county.
MANGHAM: The Commissioners need a stronger voice, the voice of our constituents. For example, the CEO currently proposes the annual budget. The Commission needs to have stronger input, regarding required budget reforms (due to municipalization) for joint review, recommendation and revision. The Commission should have the final vote on all major policy issues.
DO YOU SUPPORT HAVING A FULL-TIME COUNTY MANAGER HIRED BY THE COMMISSION, AND A CORRESPONDING REDUCTION IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE POWER OF THE CEO?
CODI: The county has always had a county manager and always has. I do not believe that the position creates the ethical issues. Rather, I believe the issues are with certain individuals that are elected into leadership that lack ethical principles.
MANGHAM: Yes. However, I do not support elimination of the CEO position. The CEO should set countywide policy with input and recommendations from each of the Commissioners; plans and policies should then be voted on by the Commission as a whole. The County Manager’s responsibility should be to implement the approved directives of the CEO and Commission.
WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE, IF ANY, TO REFORM ETHICS AT THE COUNTY LEVEL?
CODI: I supported the Blueprint Commission recommendations to improve DeKalb and make the county more ethical. I believe the implementation of the recommendations will improve the standards that need to be upheld by politicians in order to earn back the public trust.
MANGHAM: I will continue to be open, honest, forthright, and fearlessly advocate for replacement of those who are not. Ethics complaints should be reviewed by an impartial board, not appointed from within and with increased citizen input. I support the “Blueprint” recommendations.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON ATLANTA NORTH DRUID HILLS ANNEXATION?
CODI: I do not believe that annexation is the appropriate process to acquire properties and land from other jurisdictions. However, I do not believe that the current leadership has done enough to properly negotiating/communicating with NDH not to move forward with their plans of annexing into Atlanta.
MANGHAM: We must convince North Druid Hills of the benefits of staying with us, by working together and exhibiting stellar integrity, leadership and governance.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON LAVISTA HILLS CITYHOOD EFFORT?
CODI: Although I am not privy to all the facts as to why LVH wants to become a city, I believe their efforts could be viable. I am concerned, however, with the potential impact on the rest of unincorporated DeKalb County if these municipalizations continue without reform of the process by the state legislature.
MANGHAM: The citizens have a right to vote on the Referendum. It may be a moot point, but the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. Higher taxes are inevitable, yet people want cities for both legitimate and perceived reasons. I believe the citizens of DeKalb want professionalism in governance, leadership and measurable progress. We (DeKalb Government) simply cannot continue to conduct business as we have.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON CITY OF STONECREST PROPOSAL?
CODI: Again, I am concerned with the potential impact on the rest of unincorporated DeKalb County if these municipalizations continue without reform of the process by the state legislature.
MANGHAM: I supported the City of Stonecrest mainly because we are unrepresented in District 5. Our home is no longer within the proposed city boundaries. Yet, I am a woman of my word. I will continue to support the effort as well as the right of the citizens to have a Referendum for a vote. I will not have a vote, either as a Commissioner or a District 5 resident. As a Commissioner, my goal is to support, grow, and proactively advocate for all of District 5, whether municipality or unincorporated, and provide the highest level of quality services possible.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON CITY OF GREENHAVEN PROPOSAL?
CODI: My concerns here are the same.
MANGHAM: Unrealistic and not in the best interests of the citizens of unincorporated (mostly South) DeKalb. The area is too big, the budget too small, and the benefits are unsubstantiated. At present, the idea may be supported by some well- intentioned people, but too many affected citizens are either uninformed or misinformed. I continue to keep an open mind, but someone has to convince me that the current proposal makes fiscal sense with identifiable economic or other benefit.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN GENERAL ON THE INCREASE MOVEMENT TOWARDS MUNICIPALIZATION IN DEKALB COUNTY?
CODI: Continued municipalization efforts without reform of the process of creating cities by
the state Legislature could eventually bankrupt the county and become very detrimental for the welfare of the county as a whole.
MANGHAM: That ship has sailed. It is nearly complete. The better question is: how should we respond, in the 5th District and other unincorporated areas? It’s time to move forward! For example, we need stricter legislation on annexation. Even if the entire county were to be municipalized, it is imperative that we maintain a fiscally sound county government to provide certain critical services, such as water, sanitation, 911 response, and the state court system.
SOME DEKALB ACTIVISTS WERE DISPLEASED WITH THE DECISION TO APPROVE A WALMART AT SUBURBAN PLAZA (MEDLOCK ROAD AND N. DECATUR ROAD). LOCAL CONTROL OF ZONING HAS BEEN A KEY REASON PEOPLE HAVE WANTED TO FORM CITIES. ARE THERE CHANGES THAT SHOULD BE MADE TO THE ZONING PROCESS, SUCH AS TO PROVIDE FOR COMMUNITY INPUT AND/OR CONTROL?
CODI: Lack of citizen participation, poor communication from the county leadership and lack of community input have always been sore points when citizens remark about some of the reasons why they want to become cities. I believe that perhaps some changes could be made to disallow certain businesses in certain areas of the county if citizens protest; however, most times, information is not properly disseminated. Without communication from county leaders (some of whom ignore citizens complaints), we will continue to find the county serving only big business and this is very problematic.
MANGHAM: I have always been and will continue to be a strong advocate for community input and control. We need earlier notice of zoning applications and meaningful community meetings with developers. The current Community Council system is ineffective due to lack of adequate notice, lack of information provided and low citizen participation; it needs to be more “arms length.” I support Good Government DeKalb’s proposals for expanding community rights to challenge and appeal zoning decisions.