County Sole Commissioner vs. Board of Commissioners
Walker County is one of a few counties in Georgia (and in the United States, for that matter) that has a sole commissioner. There have been rumors floated about that indicate that one of the possible candidates for commissioner next year would try to move us to a board of commissioners (with the Georgia General Assembly’s blessing, of course). I do believe that our county had a commission board years ago, but consolidated the board into a sole commissioner for reasons unknown to me.
I can understand why having a board of commissioners would be more appealing since you would have representation across the county, in theory. However, there is a possibility of creating more problems than solving them. From my perspective, it would seem like the county would have multiple chiefs that govern by committee rather than a sole person where the buck would stop. Maybe I shouldn’t worry too much about governance by committee since that worked so well for the Georgia Senate this past legislative session…right?
I grant that the sole commissioner places both the legislative and executive role into the hands of a single person and can potentially abuse the power, but I will say that my commissioner has done a good job of holding about 18 town hall meetings around the county about once or twice a year. That can change with the person holding the office, but I always believed that you could always communicate your displeasure at the ballot box of the primary and general elections if you didn’t like the performance of an elected official. If you don’t like what the sole commissioner is doing, then vote them out. That becomes a little bit hairier when you’re dealing with a board of commissioners that may have staggered terms and further complicated if those commissioners aren’t elected county-wide but by their districts.
Maybe it works well for other, larger counties where accountability should be spread out among representatives across the county. However, we’re a county of close to 68,000 and still vastly rural. I’m not sure if the needs of our county would be best served by a board of commissioners with numerous agendas (not to say a sole commissioner doesn’t have his own agenda).
For those who live in counties with a board of commissioners, what has your experience been?