State of the County address draws large crowd

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond delivered his 2023 State of the County address to a sold-out crowd of more than 500 people in Atlanta on April 26.

The location of this year’s event at Historic Pullman Yards in Kirkwood – the first State of DeKalb County address to be held in Atlanta – appeared to be a strategic setting for Thurmond and other officials, including Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman, to emphasize DeKalb County and the city of Atlanta working together.

“In a time in which we see so much divisiveness there are so many good examples of collaboration and efforts to work together that are happening across the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County,” said Shipman. “There are incredible opportunities that will require us to work together to bring our residents transit, housing and healthcare as well as to tackle the challenges we have together that can’t be solved by one city or one county. Residents need us to deliver those things. I’m looking forward to continuing this spirit of collaboration that has been present since I’ve been in this office for the last year and half.”

During his State of the County address, Thurmond called “for leaders that understand the importance of being servants first and building relationships to bridge DeKalb County.”

“The journey – what you learn and the relationships you build – is permanent, but the destination may not be,” he said.

During the event, Thurmond presented three W. W. King Bridge Builder Awards to local business leaders and public servants “for their great contributions to DeKalb County,” including DeKalb County School District (DCSD) Interim Superintendent Dr. Vasanne Tinsley.

Tinsley, who will step down as DCSD interim superintendent in July after the DCSD Board of Education’s recent vote to approve Dr. Devon Horton as the next DCSD superintendent, took a long pause before accepting her award.

“I remain proud to show up every day with unwavering advocacy for all children of DeKalb,” Tinsley said. “Education of our children is important. It must not get caught up in political wrangling and we must do what’s right for children all of the time, every day. At this moment, this recognition and award is extremely special to me. This is a lonely job, you have to make hard decisions and sometimes you have to tell people ‘no.’ So, it’s important to have people who genuinely support you. Please know I remain committed and always want to see DCSD be successful.”

James B. Miller, Jr. with Ameris Bank, and Robert L Brown, Jr. with R.L. Brown and Associates, also received W.W. King Bridge Builder Awards.

At the event, representatives from broadcasting company Gray Television presented DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson and Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett with a check for $50,000 to go toward the John Lewis Commemorative Task Force’s efforts to erect a statue of Congressman John Lewis that will be placed in the Decatur Square where a Confederate monument once stood.

Garrett said that the $700,000 raised so far, and any additional funds raised for the task force, will not only go toward the sculpture but also education and events to honor Lewis and further promote his causes.

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Kathryn Jones with the Council for Quality Growth contributed to this article.

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