Dear Decaturish – Deafening silence from the DeKalb Democrats

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt October 4, 2015
DeKalb County CEO Lee May. Photo provided by Reporter Newspapers.

DeKalb County CEO Lee May. Photo provided by Reporter Newspapers.

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Dear Decaturish,

Quite bluntly, I’ve had it. I am so over-the-top sick and tired of hearing how corrupt DeKalb County Government is. I am sickened by what I read and sickened that I can’t bear to  read beyond  the  headline itself. I am just done.

But honestly what sickens me the most is the silence among the politicians and pundits within my own party who have always failed to stand up and call for resignations when it is so incredibly apparent that it has to happen. For the good of the county to say nothing of the Party, is there nobody willing to stand up and say they have had it? Is anybody, pol or pundit or party hack, willing to stand up for anything at all?

For the last twenty years, the DeKalb Democratic Party has done nothing to foster a civic virtue or maintain a culture that incubates a professional and ethical political class. It has failed to vet candidates; it has failed to recruit or build a pipeline for the future. The immediate result is that wannabe candidates can ignore the party organization, but clothe themselves in the once proud and now tattered brand.


The intermediate result of this fundamental neglect by the DeKalb Party of its core responsibilities is that partisan pride and common sense is continually trumped by a certain blind, vapid tribalism that apparently is entirely tolerant of cronyism, corruption and incompetence. So while the electorate seethes, the DDP shrugs and claims that it is neither their fault nor their responsibility.

The long term result of allowing this cancer to germinate and fester unchecked for decades is corruption “investigations” and whitewash; convictions and intervention by the Governor, calls for new cities and separate and unequal school systems; huge economic growth on the Northside and nothing south of Decatur. We are where we are because the DeKalb Democratic Party has shirked its responsibility.

I don’t know if Lee May needs to resign or not. But given that we are just a month away from the vote to create LaVista Hills, he continues to prove an incredible tone deafness to the politics of the moment. You can count on one hand the number of leaders in this county capable of bridging the abyss we are all staring at. The Interim CEO is not one of them.

At the core of the rush to create new cities and at the core of the desire for separate school systems is a revulsion at the status quo to be sure, but more fundamentally LaVista Hills is mostly a huge clamor for someone, ANYONE to step forward  on a white horse or a black horse, to unify the county and lead us out of the muck and away  from the brink. The fact that Taylor Bennett beat J Max Davis rather easily ought suggest that the clamor for clean government has no partisanship.

And the County Party does not lift either a finger or its voice to champion change.

Democrats in DeKalb County are going to have to figure out for themselves what they are going to do with their party organization. It has become an absurd institution that has no ability to turn this county in a new direction. The four or five Democrats  with the political skills, ambition and courage to lead DeKalb County back all ignore the institutional party because it is so poorly run and its meeting so sparsely attended. It has ceased to be a useful entity for either elected official or the voters. Ninety-nine percent of the County’s voters could not even name it Chair.

Creating new cities will never be the antidote to corruption and cronyism – Brookhaven has certainly proven that. Republicans are never going to win a race for CEO or control the School Board. So the hard truth of it is this county  will never  enjoy political  renaissance we are all so desperate for unless Democrats get their act together and find candidates and party leadership that the voters  can  embrace as competent and ethical and post-tribal. Until that happens the County will continue to struggle to find its way back.

– Steve Perkins

Perkins is the most recent First Vice Chair of The DeKalb Democratic Party and has also served on Georgia’s Democratic Party Executive Committee. He now leads a non-partisan effort.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Janis Jones

    The Dekalb Democrats are corrupt and their chairwoman is the worst. She needs to go. Her resignation would be the best thing that would happen to the Dekalb Democratic Party

  • factivist

    What he said! Any resemblance between the DDP and a REAL political party is purely coincidental. It is an ineffective, lazy clique that likes to go to state and national DP meetings, but day-to-day work of running a county party? Not so much. The chairwoman (a former teacher who cannot even spell much beyond “cat”) just fell into that position when her predecessor resigned mid-term a few years ago. That person had actually tried to improve things, but gave up to the do-nothings in frustration.

    No candidate recruitment, no organizational skills, no volunteer network other than on paper, nada, zip. The DeKalb Party just collects about $15,000 in qualifying fees every other year from the boatload of Democratic candidates in DeKalb, then spends it on food,drinks, parties, paying for officers to go to meetings, etc., until time to collect again. Cronyism, corruption and incompetence are the bywords of the DDP – so they get along just fine with county politicians who share the same characteristics.

  • CMR

    More insight to a culture many of us are only now realizing has existed here in Dekalb for years. Not to hijack the Decaturish read, but George Chidi wrote a piece last month highlighting how ridiculous this group is. With permission (Dan?) here is the link to is article :

  • insight
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