State representative asks DeKalb CEO May to resign

Rep. Earnest "Coach" Williams, D-Avondale Estates, filled his breakfast plate on Feb. 5 as state lawmakers and nonprofit agencies gathered at the state Capitol (DAVID TULIS / AJC SPECIAL).

Rep. Earnest “Coach” Williams, D-Avondale Estates, filled his breakfast plate on Feb. 5 as state lawmakers and nonprofit agencies gathered at the state Capitol (DAVID TULIS / AJC SPECIAL).

A DeKalb member of the Georgia House of Representatives is calling for Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May to resign the county commission seat he was originally elected to, a move that would trigger a special election.

Rep. Earnest “Coach” Williams, D-Avondale Estates, wrote in a letter to May that his refusal to step down has disenfranchised citizens who have been left without representation.

More than 140,000 residents southeast DeKalb have lacked a district representative for a year and half since Gov. Nathan Deal appointed May to replace CEO Burrell Ellis as Ellis faces criminal charges. Ellis’ first trial ended with a hung jury, and a retrial is scheduled for June.

“This situation is unacceptable and can be remedied by your resignation of this seat,” Williams wrote to May, who is also a Democrat. “I look forward to you putting your political self-interests aside and exercising your better judgment by submitting your resignation from the District 5 seat immediately.”

May in August nominated a temporary replacement commissioner — George Turner, an active community member — but the DeKalb Board of Commissioners hasn’t been able to reach a four-vote majority needed to either confirm or reject him.

May said Friday he won’t resign, and he has followed the procedure outlined in a law signed by Deal to fill temporary vacancies.

“Coach Williams’ request is misplaced,” May said. “I have done everything under this law to ensure District 5 has a voting member, but certain members of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners have failed to live up to their responsibilities under the law.”

If May resigned his district seat, he would retain the position of DeKalb CEO at least until the conclusion of Ellis’ trial.

But if Ellis is found not guilty or the charges against him are dropped, he would return to his CEO role and May would be out of a job.


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