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Dear Decaturish – LaVista Hills fixes DeKalb’s corruption problem

Annexation, new cities D'ish

Dear Decaturish – LaVista Hills fixes DeKalb’s corruption problem


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Dear Decaturish,

DeKalb has become the mess that it is because it is nearly impossible to fire corrupt or incompetent incumbents.

How hard is it to fire them? Not a single DeKalb commissioner has been defeated for reelection since 1992.

And why is it so hard to fire these folks? The size of the county.

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Each DeKalb commissioner represents about 140,000 people. It takes a lot of money to reach that many voters, realistically, a hundred grand or more to be truly competitive against an incumbent.

DeKalb Commissioners happily raise money from developers and county vendors who won’t contribute to challengers because doing so would put their business interests at risk. The result? Incumbent Commissioners know the only way they can lose is angering monied interests.

In LaVista Hills, each city council member would represent less than 12,000 people, just two or three neighborhoods and less than 1/10th of a DeKalb Commissioner.

In a district that small, anyone can run competitively and beat a bad council member because it’s relatively easy to knock on such a small number of voters’ doors. You don’t need to raise an impossible amount of money to run for office, creating competition and accountability.

Firing incumbents is the only way to stop corruption. There are some reforms on next week’s ballot I am planning to vote yes on. They are helpful steps, but I doubt they will be enough.

Competitive election are our best bet for reform, and that’s something our community will only get in LaVista Hills.

– Josh Kahn

Josh Kahn is a community activist in the Toco Hills neighborhood.

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