March 6, 2013
By Kenneth Stepp
I grew up in Louisville Kentucky where leadership was secondary to ego, power, and money. In 1987 I moved to Georgia, bought a small home in the woods on five acres in Cartersville Georgia and really never thought of leadership since not much affected me there.
I followed my now wife, Tam to Dekalb County. Leadership there affected me everywhere I went. It was brutal. In 1994 we moved to Gwinnett County, Lawrenceville to be exact, where we reside to this day. It was a breathe of fresh air. I kept waiting for Gwinnett to fall into the black hole that plagues most areas in Metro Atlanta as bus lines and crowds escape the city. But strong determined leadership has been the wall that shouldn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t, fail.
Having experienced weak, self serving leaders in the past, makes me uniquely qualified to appreciate what we have in our county. I am a blogger, work from home, and find myself reading many articles about our area, and especially the posts by citizens expressing their opinions about the people, events, decisions, rules, codes, plans, etc our elected or appointed officials make, attend, or do. Most have no idea how great we have it here. From our law enforcement to our judicial branch. This county is amazing. Perfect? Not even close. Human errors? Absolutely. But until science creates a robot that can do the job, humans will have to do.
If a person grew up in Gwinnet County they have a skewed view of what is good and bad about leadership. They’re lucky not to have experienced some of what I have. People killed in broad daylight a block from home, a robbery taking place in front of me in line at the grocery store near my home, and prostitutes walking the street just around the corner. That is in our neighboring county, Dekalb. One can read the news any day and see the difference, From the school board to the CEO, a position that costs Dekalb over one million dollars per year when you add the cost of security and expense like personal staff. Charlotte Nash does her job and that job with excellence as a bonus for us.
Tough decision making are the true test of leadership. The solid waste & recycling plan is a good example of this. A friend that writes for Gwinnett Ethics Inc, the watchdog nonprofit I started in 2012 and I wrote an article about this plan. He and I had completely different opinion about the plan. But we agreed on two things that we felt were most important to citizens here. We want a choice, and we want competition The comment thread on that article has been enlightening so far. Vast differences of opinions. That is what makes us great though.
I have been elected as a delegate for the Republican Party which most of our leaders are a part of. Getting to know them on a personal level has been an honor and illuminating. They are husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. They all have day jobs but feel compelled to serve. A stark contrast to most areas in this part of the globe. We will be electing party leaders March 9th. I’ve received calls and emails from those running. No matter who wins, we win. This is an awesome place to live.
My wife and I have raised kids, ran a business, attended church, made friends, and live wonderfully since moving to Gwinnett. My kids know of no other county. I have taught them to see the greatness of our leaders though. We can still go to the store at night, still park many rows away from the door at the mall, and not worry about a life changing event happening. I write about problems and missteps by elected officials all the time. Today I would just like to say thank you to our leaders both past and present for keeping Gwinnett the hometown that it is. That did not happen by accident.