DeKalb County

‘It’s all about the journey’ DeKalb CEO delivers final state of the county address

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, who carved a multi-decade career in politics and public service, spoke before hundreds of county employees, community and business leaders, family, and friends, delivering his eighth and final state of the county address at Assembly Studios in Doraville.

He talked about his two terms of leadership in DeKalb County.

“It is so special realizing the challenges we faced through the last eight years, and how far we have progressed in the county. It was a collective effort. Building bridges, communication, and cooperation. I’m just proud of this team, that is DeKalb,” Thurmond said.

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The son of a Georgia sharecropper, Thurmond forged a multi-faceted career. The democrat served as a representative in the Georgia General Assembly, Georgia Commissioner of Labor, Director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services, and Superintendent of the DeKalb County School District. In 2016 he won a landslide victory to become DeKalb’s Chief Executive Officer.

“It’s all about the journey. I thank God for my parents who had very little in terms of material wealth but instilled in me, my brother and sisters that with faith, hard work, and determination, you can achieve anything.

Thurmond said during his watch, the county turned around a $27 million deficit to a $140 million surplus.

He said the county revamped the aging water and sewage system, including replacing over 120,000 water meters.

Voters approved the first county Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) to repave more than 300 miles of roads and secure major residential and commercial economic development projects.

The county government also safely guided its citizens through the pandemic, through the tireless work of county employees, including law enforcement and healthcare workers.

He told Channel 2′s Tom Regan what is he most proud of.

“The most important thing we have done Tom, is build bridges, opened the lines of communication. We have bridged the divide between north DeKalb and south DeKalb. We are a more unified county,” Thurmond said.

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In the closing remarks of his final address, Thurmond expressed his vision for the county.

“It is a vision of DeKalb not separated by black, white, Hispanic, Latino or Asian. One Dekalb, one Georgia, one United States of America.’ Thurmond said.

Thurmond, 71, is also an attorney and accomplished author.

He would not speculate on his next move, but supporters and friends say it won’t include retirement, but rather another challenge, possibly running for a higher office in Georgia or national politics.

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