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Sam Olens delivers his last state of the county talk to Cobb Chamber of Commerce

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.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


1 Comment

  1. Frank January 13, 2010 11:51 am

    As a Cobb County resident and taxpayer for 11 years, I appreciate all that Mr. Olens has done for our county in his tenure on the county commission both as a commissioner and as commission chair. Compared to other places I have lived, this county seems to be well managed and able to deliver needed services efficiently and effectively. I would vote for him for governor in a heartbeat. He is far and above the sorry Republican bunch currently running for governor.Report


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