These are unique times, especially for those campaigning for political office and for the voters who are trying to determine the best candidates to represent them.
In an attempt to better educate voters about the position of candidates for the Georgia House and Senate on the matter of Ethics legislation, DeKalb Citizens has prepared an Ethics Voter Guide based on a questionnaire we sent to all candidates who qualified to run for a seat as a member of the DeKalb County legislative delegation.
A copy of the guide, with specific information by House and Senate districts can be found at:
The nine-question survey asked candidates to state their positions on reconstituting the ethics board, which has been without a quorum since a State Supreme Court decision in 2018. Twenty-one of the 46 registered candidates completed the questionnaire. The vast majority of responding candidates, which included incumbents, agree that:
- a bill should be passed that remedies the appointments to the Board of Ethics in order to allow the board to get up and running as soon as possible;
- the Board of Ethics should be completely independent and have sole authority over the Ethics office and operations, including its policies and procedures; and
- direct access to the Ethics office is the most appropriate path for employees to express concerns about ethics violation.
These results are consistent with the strong message sent by DeKalb voters when they supported by 92% the establishment of the independent ethics board in 2015 and rejected by 61.3% the gutting of that same board in 2019.
We are pleased that we heard from nearly half of those running to represent our county in the legislature, and we appreciate the time they took to respond. For those candidates who did not participate, we would ask them to consider if they are acting in the best interest of citizens by not responding. And we would remind them of this passage from the 2013 Grand Jury special report on ethics:
“In this country, governmental organizations derive their authority from the trust and confidence placed in it by its citizens. Without this trust, representative democracy could not exist either because people would not respect the authority of their institutions, or because government would usurp that authority for itself, and cease acting in the interest of its citizens… Ethics provides the roadmap for behavior that promotes essential public trust in government.”
When the General Assembly returns either this month or next, we understand the focus must be on the budgeting process, and ethics will most likely not be on their agenda. Nevertheless, we, the citizens of DeKalb County, must continue to make sure the issue of the nonfunctioning Board of Ethics remains a priority for our County Delegation.