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Dear Decaturish – NPU’s may be a part of DeKalb County’s future

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Dear Decaturish – NPU’s may be a part of DeKalb County’s future

Lance Hammonds, president of the NAACP DeKalb County Branch (center) attends the town hall hosted by the DeKalb County School Board to introduce Dr. Devon Horton, sole finalist for the job of superintendent at the DeKalb County School District administrative and instructional complex in Stone Mountain on Friday, April 14, 2023. Photo by Dean Hesse.

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Dear Decaturish,

When was the last time you attended the 9 a.m. bi-monthly Board of Commissioners meeting or a Townhall meeting? How do you communicate with your county government? Do you feel  like your voice is not being heard? This is a common concern of many DeKalb Citizens.  

One of the many recommendations put forth by the Charter Review Commission is section 9. (d) Under the Powers of the Commission Section.

Charter Review Commissioners Lance Hammonds, Susan Nugent and Mary Hinkle led a subcommittee to determine ways to engage and empower the citizens of DeKalb County. This review included the Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) concept utilized in the City of Atlanta, implemented in 1974 by then Mayor Maynard Jackson. Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the NPU program. 

Many of Atlanta’s elected officials got their start as a part of an NPU. The Atlanta NPU is self-elected and self-operated. They are not appointed by elected officials, but their efforts are supported by city government.

If this recommendation is approved by the Board of Commissioners and the DeKalb Legislative delegation, it will be the only place in the organization act that emphasizes the importance of citizen engagement. The Board of Commissioners would be empowered to determine the best way to expand citizen engagement. 

Sec. 9. – Powers and duties of the commission.

(d) In addition to the powers enumerated in subsection (a) of this section, the commission “shall” establish one or more citizen engagement programs including, but not limited to, community councils, DRAFT- VERSION 10.30.23 15 neighborhood planning units, or other initiatives designed to foster greater input and participation by county residents in DeKalb County government affairs.

If you agree that community engagement should be part of the revised Organization Act, let your County Commissioner, State Senators and State Representatives know. If you don’t know who your elected officials are, go to MVP Landing Page | GA SOS VR and give them a call. You can also attend one of the public comment opportunities and make your comments part of the record. 

— Lance Hammonds, DeKalb Charter Review Commissioner

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