New acting DeKalb CEO Lee May talks about moving forward

New acting DeKalb CEO Lee May talks about moving forward

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -

The new acting CEO of DeKalb County says he's ready to move the county forward after years of political turmoil.

Lee May was sworn in on Tuesday, less than an hour after Gov. Nathan Deal removed Burrell Ellis from the position. Ellis is fighting a 15-count indictment that alleges he strong-armed contractors for campaign contributions.

May, who had been a DeKalb County Commissioner, told FOX 5 that he wants to focus on three things: public safety, public service and restoring public trust.

The interim CEO is slated to serve until 2016, or until Ellis resolves the indictment.

May is not commenting on Ellis' legal troubles but says he understands why DeKalb residents have grown weary of political turmoil. His appointment comes just a few months after the governor removed and replaced all but two DeKalb school board members.

"We have to build relationships here in DeKalb County," May said. "We have to build communications and we have to just sit down, face-to-face in terms…in terms of how do we now deal with our cities, how do we deal with our school board? How do we deal with our state legislators? How do we deal with each other internally within the DeKalb County government…There's a lot of decisions that have to be made and what I've learned is we have to take one day at a time. "

May spent seven years on the commission and just became the presiding officer months ago. He says he's not making any sweeping changes for now, just evaluating what must happen next to restore public trust.

"Everything that we've experienced over the last few days -- really over the last year -- is unchartered territory, and so everyone is kind of, you know, wading through the water the best that they can," May said. "We're still delivering services. We're doing it well, we still have some issues that we have to fix, but we're still moving forward."

While May said he plans no sweeping changes, he is planning to move the CEO's office and headquarters out of the county administration building over to West Ponce de Leon Avenue, where previous CEOS had their offices. He said he's making that change so he can have close communications with commissioners he's been working with for seven years.

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