Five seek ex-commissioner’s seat


Three of the five people seeking to fill ex-commissioner Elaine Boyer’s empty seat on the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners have ties to her.

One is a Boyer planning commission appointee, one ran against her twice and one filed the ethics complaint that led to her demise.

The seat became vacant Aug. 25 when Boyer resigned and later pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud charges in federal court. A special election has been scheduled for Nov. 4 to fill the District 1 commission seat.

Seeking to replace Boyer are four Republicans: Wendy Butler, Larry Danese, Nancy Jester and Tom Owens. One Independent, Holmes E. Pyles, is also running for the seat.


Wendy Butler

An Atlanta attorney, Butler is a former member of the DeKalb County Planning Commission, appointed by Boyer to represent District 1. Butler also has served on the county’s zoning board of appeals, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Butler has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northern Kentucky University, a master’s degree in community planning from University of Cincinnati and law degree from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Butler did not return calls by The Champion for this story.


Larry Danese

Danese, who lives in Brookhaven, has master’s degrees in business administration and engineering and is a retired engineer.

Until resigning recently to run for the DeKalb commission seat, Danese represented the county on the DeKalb Soil and Water Conservation District.

Danese ran unsuccessfully against Boyer in 2008 and 2012 because he was “concerned by the lack of the ability of the residents to participate in [Boyer’s] zoning decisions.”

“I felt that someone—that was me at the time—had to stand up to try to change things in District 1,” Danese said.

“I felt—and feel now—that District 1 can better represent its constituents…than in the past. I believe we can continue to hold the line on taxes.”

Danese said the district is divided into two types of constituents: those living in cities and those considering incorporation.

“We have different responsibilities to the two principal groups,” he said. For city, the county should provide more funding for infrastructure, and for unincorporated areas the county must continue to provide the services the residents are accustomed to, he said.



Nancy Jester

Jester, a Dunwoody resident and former actuarial consultant, has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has served on the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, and earlier this year, she made an unsuccessful bid for the state school superintendent position.

During her Sept. 4 campaign launch, Jester said she will be a “fiscal hawk” if elected.

“I will be looking at bloat and waste in DeKalb,” Jester said. “I think the only way you restore ethics and integrity is by electing people that have ethics and integrity.”
She also said she will disclose her use of county funds is real-time, if elected.

“Disclosure means I’m going to put it out there up front for you to see. I will put my check register up, so every time a paperclip gets purchased or a check goes out of my office, you’ll know about it in real time,” Jester said.


Thomas Owens

Owens, a Doraville resident, is a graduate a Georgia State University with a degree in criminal justice and a U.S. Army veteran.

Owens said the Army taught him that “you don’t tolerate stealing and lying. Integrity and honesty is something that you can’t buy and that’s what I have. I live the way I talk.”

“I just believe we need a voice, somebody with honesty to represent the citizens and to weed out the corruption,” Owens said.

Three years ago, Owens started an investigation of alleged financial abuses by Boyer and her aide. He filed multiple Open Records requests and earlier this year, Owens filed an ethics complaint against Boyer which eventually led to the criminal indictment against her.

“I’m going to continue to investigate and continue clean up,” Owens said. “I’m running to make things better for all citizens.”

Owens said he would support a hiring freeze, except for first responders, “to get the spending under control and to get better services to the constituents.”


Holmes E. Pyles

Pyles, a Stone Mountain resident, has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Georgia and is a retired state government worker.

“I think with my experience I can help DeKalb County get straightened out from the mess that they are in—all the politicians getting their hands in the cookie jar,” Pyles said.
“An honest person in office can make a big difference with what’s going on now,” Pyles said.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how this [election] develops—whether people want to listen to the professional politicians or whether they want to take in consideration…someone willing to stand up and run for office against all the criticism that the candidates get, no matter who they are,” Pyles said.



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