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A conversation with Oz Nesbitt
This is the second of an occasional series of conversations with local leaders, movers and shakers. Oz Nesbitt, Sr. is the Post I Commissioner for Rockdale County since January 2009, and is a public speaking consultant.

It's been over six months in the position. How has it been going so far?
It's been exciting. To tell you the truth, in some regards, I feel like the clean up man. We have done a lot of straightening things out and cleaning things up. We've discovered a lot of things. A lot of things, I think this administration has been presented with that were perhaps going to come one way or the other. It's like the starter on your car. At some point, it's going to have to be replaced. It's just a matter of timing, of whether I'm driving it or you're driving it. It just so happened the starter went out while we were driving the car.
Several things have been left alone, ignored, and maybe to a degree swept under the rug.

One of the areas I really have focused on is people management and people accountability. I feel strongly that we have a talented group of employees throughout Rockdale County government. However, personnel accountability and people being true to their task and their callings and how to distinguish themselves between day to day operations and day to day politics are important.

What's been unexpected about this position?
I think the most unexpected thing about this position is the phrase, "being part-time." There is absolutely nothing part-time about serving in this capacity. That is one of the biggest misconceptions that exists. If you are genuine and you're going to make a significant difference and really serve the people in this county, then there's nothing part time about the job at all. You have to have a full-time attitude about conducting county business. The only part-time thing about it is the stipend and the fact that I'm not managing the day to day operations. But my involvement and influence and decision making are all full time. I get calls and e-mails around the clock.

The county might be making some tough decisions. What are your priorities? What are some things that you feel should be preserved?
The last thing that I want to do is furlough employees and cut their jobs. However, I am strongly in favor of not just realigning positions, but also consolidating departments that can be consolidated. I think Rockdale is in decent order, but in order to maintain that, we have got to take a hard look at how we can streamline in order to make our budget.

We will not compromise needed services. Public safety is on the top of my list and senior citizens are on the top of my list.

You're about to go into a day-long strategic planning session. Do you have a vision or goal for the county you'd like to bring to the table?
I'd like to see Rockdale County become known as one of the most culturally diverse counties in the metro area and/or throughout the state of Georgia. One of the legacies I want to leave is to do what I can to tear down barriers and walls that separate and this community... And to be able to attract people into our community who are interested in being part of a progressive, blended community. Rockdale is no longer the sleepy bedroom community it once was.

I think Rockdale county has more than enough land mass to be a perfect venue for arts and cultural events, bringing people out here in a less congested area, being able to garner the same revenue you see in a Chastain Park or Piedmont Park. We have the landmass. We're centrally located to be able to attract some of those artists to Rockdale County and create revenue for our local hotels and restaurants. I'm also in favor of revisiting the ordinances pertaining to alcohol sales for restaurants and night venues, because I feel like Rockdale County is losing a lot of revenue to surrounding counties because our alcohol ordinances are confusing and conflicting.

I want to point out something else. I often talk about my life philosophy in the three As: attitude, approach and appearance.

Over the past seven months, the chairman has learned how to take a new and better approach in conveying his vision to Post I and Post II commissioners. He is working a lot more diligently to include us in his process of thinking before he comes up with a conclusion in what to do. I really appreciate that new approach. I appreciate him asking us for our thoughts and feedback and input and consulting with us before he comes up with a final decision. It's just a respectful thing to do to include the other commissioners. When you talk about being technical versus appropriate, I'd rather be appropriate
any day.