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A Conversation with Richard Oden
Rockdale Commission Chairman Richard Oden

The News sat down with County Commission Chairman and CEO Richard Oden to ask his thoughts about some of the issues in discussion at the Board of Commissioners.

Richard Oden: Let me put facts on the table. I'm a very fact-oriented person. I'm a very rules and regulations person, a person that sets goals and objectives. If you have a strategic plan in place, you have a road map to follow.
That's where you have a team effort.

Our County Enabling Act, it says very clearly - "The Chairman shall be the chief executive officer of the county government and shall generally supervise, direct and control the administration or the affairs of the county pursuant only to the powers herein specifically conferred upon him and pursuant to the adoption and resolutions in regards to matters reserved in the exclusive jurisdiction of the Board of Commissioners..."

I want the public to be aware... Richard didn't write it.

The other thing I wanted to address, in a structure of government, a structure of business, there are rules and regulations.

The role of the commission is legislative - the budget, ordinances, zoning, policies. That is the limitation of the commission. That's where Richard Oden serves as the chairperson. I preside over the meeting of the Board of Commissioners... Once that meeting shuts down... that's when the day-to-day takes over. I want to make sure as clearly as I can explain it.

In our system, we don't have a county administrator. We have a chief of staff. Because there's only three of us, two of us can't speak (about county matters up for a vote without violating Sunshine laws). The chief of staff is the liaison between all three commissioners.

It is improper for the legislator to go into the operation on any level and give directives. When that happens, it creates conflict. When conflict occurs, there has to be resolutions. When (Post) 1 or 2 come into the operation, even to ask questions without the Chief of Staff, it puts the Chief of Staff in a very uncomfortable position. Conflict comes over here. In a meeting, one or two may chastise staff about something they want to get done.

When the budget is cut by commissioners, some departments suffer. When those departments suffer because they don't have the equipment or manpower, then issues arise with the citizens.

Let's use planning and code enforcement as an example. That's a hot topic. That department had five employees. During tough times, that department was cut to two employees. If you take away the employees and equipment, then you can't service properties in a timely manner, so complaints go up.

I laugh when I hear the chair is responsible for this. Well you're responsible for the budget. Give the team the tools to work with and we'll get things done.

Any team working together - TEAM, together everybody achieves more. You get that through goals and objectives.
If I'm asking you for goals and objectives each year and you don't give me goals and objectives, I can't wait on you. I'd operate in chaos. When that doesn't happen, the chairman's going to implement goals and objectives. We have to operate organized. If you want to participate in the goals and objectives, the chief of staff will ask you for your goals and we'll blend those together and walk down the street together.

If you just pop up today, "I want to do this," it doesn't work that way. You can choose to be part of the process or not.


Take human resources. We've had a number of directors in the last six, seven years. Mr. Bowie has been the longest serving.

We implemented safety guideline for our employees. These are things that should be in place.

Changes in modified employee selection process to Department of Labor Uniform guidelines.

What does that mean? Because you're my cousin - we're not going to hire you because you're my cousin. We're going to hire the best person. We've got to conform to uniform guidelines from the Department of Labor.

As we grow we maintained our insurance rating ISO.

Recreation and Maintenance: We'll have over 30 miles of trails. Walkers and biking trails to improve the quality of life. We'll be doing a grand opening at the monastery bridge. There's successes going on every day under this administration. We're putting together a great quality of life.

Because we've had good fiscal stewards, we've been able to maintain good bond ratings, even in tough financial times. We've also received the CAFR awards for the fifth year.

We are an emerging market. I project and see a sustainable, prosperous community for the years to come. We are (working) today to prepare for future generations.

Thanks to our school system and chamber and government, we are producing a work-ready work force. I pray we move to areas of life science, biotechnology, advanced technology, pharmaceutical technology. Those areas pay big dollars, so we can become a community of choice.

We are a community of one.

I tell anyone, Google me, check out my background and my pedigree. Google others and check out their history.