When Stan Watson takes office in January, he will be a freshman county commissioner, but he brings 12 years of political experience as a state legislator to DeKalb’s legislative body.
And Watson does not consider the move from the Georgia House of Representatives to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners to be a political step down.
“Most of my friends say this is a step up,” Watson said. As a state representative, Watson represented 25,000 people, but as the county commissioner for Super District 7, he will represent about 322,000 voters who are concerned about trash pickup, code enforcement, public safety, zoning and local ordinances that affect quality of life.
“This is where the rubber meets the road as it relates to constituent services,” said Watson, a former chairman of DeKalb’s delegation to the state’s House of Representatives.
Watson was first elected to represent state House District 91 in 1997. In 2008 Watson left to run for county CEO against Burrell Ellis. In July he defeated three newcomers in the Democratic primary for the seat being vacated by commissioner Connie Stokes, who made an unsuccessful bid for the 4th congressional district against Hank Johnson who won a third term.
Watson said he will bring to the commission a calming voice, a wealth of legislative knowledge and political savvy.
“I’m going to be a person that steps outside of the box and show a vision for all of DeKalb with the assistance of my new colleagues,” Watson said.
Since he won an uncontested Democratic primary in July, Watson has attended budget committee sessions and met with several county department heads. He has also been present at the commission meetings where he observed the progress of the budget that he will be voting on in January.
“I can hit the ground running,” Watson said. “I like to say that I’m shovel-ready.”
In addition to the county government meeting, Watson had continued to hold his “kitchen cabinet” meetings every Saturday for the community. Started in 1997, these meetings have featured state legislators, several corporate heads and three governors.
“We have breakfast and talk about issues in DeKalb County and how we can best solve them, but also facilitate giving information to the community,” Watson said. “I’ve brought people they could use in their community to make their community better so they could be a better informed citizen and more importantly a better informed voter.”
Watson said that since the county’s economic forecast is one that is predicated on sales revenue, he wanted to bring sanity to the procurement process to ensure that county leaders take care of the residents and business interests of DeKalb County.
“We have to make sure we … ‘do DeKalb’ in our efforts to make sure that DeKalb County can flourish again in our economy,” Watson said.
For example, when the county government needs to purchase vehicles, those cars should ideally come from a DeKalb dealership, Watson said.
“Anytime you tax your people like we did with the water rates…it is a stimulus package in its own rights for citizens of DeKalb County if utilized correctly,” Watson said.