By Maria Saporta
It was the last “State of the County” address that Cobb Chairman Sam Olens would ever give to the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
But folks attending the breakfast Monday morning would not have known that from just hearing Olens’ speech.
Olens played it straight — giving Cobb Chamber members a rundown of the county’s operations and progress in public safety, infrastructure, education, the county’s budget, its quality of life as well as acquisition of parks and green space.
The only indication that this would be his last “State of the County” breakfast was when Olens ended his talk.
“It’s been my pleasure to be your chairman,” said Olens, who is rarely short of words.
Olens has decided to step down as Cobb’s chairman to enter the race to become the state’s attorney general. Attorney General Thurbert Baker is running for governor.
Olens also has served as chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission, another post he has given up to run for statewide office.
Asked after the breakfast why he didn’t offer any reflections on his tenure as chairman of the county, Olens said that was not the purpose of the breakfast. His mission for the morning was to provide a “State of the County” address and not to dwell in his own nostalgia.
One of the attendees at the breakfast commented on the way out that perhaps Olens should have run for governor after all. Given the current field of Republican gubernatorial candidates, the Chamber member said Olens would have looked good in comparison.
By the way, Olens provided a positive report of how Cobb is doing in comparison to the rest of the region. For example, he presented a chart of metro counties’ millage rates, not including school and state taxes.
For the 2009 fiscal year, Atlanta’s millage rate was 22.2; Fulton County was 10.3; DeKalb County was 16.9; Gwinnett County was 13.3; and Cobb County was 9.6.
Two other charts also showed that Cobb had the smallest operating and capital budget among those jurisdictions as well as the fewest number of full-time government employees.