CONYERS - With a loud, boisterous announcement on the steps of the Rockdale County Assembly Hall, Post 1 County Commissioner Oz Nesbitt officially declared he would be seeking the Rockdale County chairman seat for the 2016 election year.
"I can assure you in the days ahead that we're going to do every single thing we can that touches many people in our community," said Nesbitt to a crowd of supporters that covered the front lawn and staircase at the Assembly Hall, 901 Main Street, Conyers. "We're encouraging all those folks not on board with Team Oz to get on board."
The number one issue that will be on his campaign platform will be public safety, he told the crowd. Nesbitt also said he wanted to listen to the community's problems and build strong relationships with other county and city departments.
"We're going to do all we can to combat crime with Sheriff Eric Levett," said Nesbitt. "I think the number one thing is building relationships. No longer can afford leadership that isolates and alienates any member of this community. "
Although he didn't explicitly mention the current county administration that has been in office for the past seven years, Nesbitt did talk about the community needing stronger leadership that was "inclusive" rather than "exclusive.
Current Rockdale Chairman and CEO Richard Oden declared his intention to run for re-election at an event in March. No other candidates have emerged as of yet for the county chair seat in the 2016 election year.
Nesbitt's announcement came just moments after a Rockdale County Board of Commissioners voting session ended Tuesday morning, which saw Nesbitt and Oden get into a fiery debate about the issues on the county agenda as well as other issues not on the agenda,such as what is the role of the chairman.
But, during his first public speech to his many supporters, Nesbitt vowed to no longer engage in underhanded political banter during county meetings.
"I will not throw darts, throw subtle jabs at anybody seeking the office," said Nesbitt.
He then referred to Oden as a commissioner and not as a chairman; Nesbitt usually refers to Oden as Chairman during county meetings and at public events.
"Let me make this plain and clear while I'm standing here," he said. "I'm not running against Commissioner Richard Oden. I'm not running against Richard Oden. I'm running for the office of chairman of Rockdale County. What does that mean? It's not personal. It's business."
Nesbitt was first elected Post 1 commissioner in 2008, the same year Oden was voted in as chairman. Nesbitt was re-elected as a commissioner in the 2012 general election.
"For eight years (the citizens of Rockdale) have said, ‘They want to make a change. They want to make a difference,'" said Nesbitt. "This is a defining moment in Rockdale County."