Rockdale County's Post 1 Commissioner sat down with The News to share a few thoughts on the county's operation and future. This is an occasional series of conversations with Rockdale-Conyers' movers and shakers.
I think that one of the most humbling experiences is being able to serve the people of Rockdale County, and being trusted to be a local civic leader on behalf of the interests in this community.
I appreciate the honor and respect people give me in being an elected official and being a commissioner. But I don't get caught up in titles and whether people call me Oz or Commissioners Nesbitt… I appreciate it, it's respectful, but at the end of the day, I'm the guy that lives next door to you.
When I think about some of the things going on in the community as to how the county government operates…. It's hard for me to have this conversation and not be open and candid about the fact Chairman (Richard) Oden has made it quite difficult at times. He's given so many people the impression that he and he and he alone singlehandedly runs this county. I think he's been tickled by the fact some people call him “King” or call this place “Odenville.”
From the beginning, I've tried to support what I thought was the vision and direction of Chairman Oden. I believe the way the county is set up, the chairman is responsible for outlining his vision for the county and then getting with Post 1 and Post 2 for buy-in and making sure he incorporates their thoughts and some of the things they see for the vision of the county. But that hasn't happened. The chairman has said it's my way or the highway, in so many ways.
I can't tell you the number of times I've sat in board meetings and Chairman Oden has nearly boasted about the fact he is in charge of day to day operations. However when there are issues in day to day operations that doesn't sit well with the citizens, he somewhat backs up and begins to point fingers at department heads as being the responsible parties.
At the end of the day the buck stops with the chairman.
And then there's this whole thing about CEO. Where did that come from? Yes, we understand the chairman of the county is the Chief Executive Officer of day to day operations. But it says so much about his personality his ego, and it matches the arrogance he has exhibited to the community by putting this title of CEO in front of his name. If you're CEO, you ought to have boots on the ground and be more visible in the community than he has been.
Since being elected in 2008, I've seen this county come together in so many different ways. People in Rockdale really love being here. They enjoy being here. My goal as commissioner is to make sure we live in a safe community, where people are in a position to take care and provide for their families. That's why I continue to fight for jobs. I started an initiative a year ago called ready to work Rockdale. Advocating for local residents making sure they have the best opportunity to get back to work.
(Regarding the Acuity building in the city and county Opportunity Zone). We missed the boat on the county side because the day to day manager moved too slow to respond to an opportunity that was on the table. Those are the kinds of opportunities we can't afford to allow someone's personality, someone's ego, someone's arrogance and personal attitude to get in the way of business.
In leadership, one of the things you have to have is the ability to separate business from personal. At the end of the day, we're obligated to the people to make the best business decisions to be the best stewards on behalf of every single person in the county. It's not a personal decision when we have to think about trimming the county's budget.
When I go back and talk about the internal operations of the things that have gone on in Rockdale county, I believe our department heads have been intimidated and sometimes even bullied to the point where they're afraid to have a casual conversation with Post 1 and Post 2.
Fostering good relationships, building a culture of talented professional people who are equipped to get the job done, getting out of their way and allowing them to get the job done, making certain that Rockdale County is a safe place – where people enjoy living, want to do business, where motorists do pull off the interstate and spend money in our community.
Me and Commissioner (JaNice) Van Ness don't always agree and don't always see eye to eye, but we do have a respectful relationship. We can communicate and agree to disagree without being confrontational, maintaining our dignity and maintaining a level of respect for each other as commissioners and individuals.
Post 1 and Post 2 haven't always had an opportunity to express themselves.
The only thing part time about this job is the pay. My phone rings all through the night. My phone rings Sunday while I'm in church. People come to the dealership. And that's OK. It's a 24 hour service. I don't look at it as part time. I'm a full time commissioner serving people with full time issues.
I think when it's time for me to make a decision in 2016 as to whether I'm going to seek reelection to Post 1 or whether I'm going to hang my hat up and walk away or whether I'm going to seek another position, that is yet to be determined. Right now, my focus is on how I can get people back to work, how I can make sure this community is a safe community. My focus is in right now.
Commissioner Nesbitt is hosting a town hall on the question of garbage collection services and whether it should be mandated by the county. That will be held Tuesday, July 15, 6 p.m. at the JP Carr Community Center.