Lee May sworn in as interim DeKalb County CEO - CBS46 News

Lee May sworn in as interim DeKalb County CEO

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Gov. Nathan Deal announced DeKalb County District 5 Commissioner Lee May will replace indicted DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

A panel appointed by Deal has recommended to suspend indicted Ellis.

Deal made his decision public just after 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Ellis will be suspended with pay, according to the news conference.

Last month, a grand jury indicted Ellis on charges that he tried to extort campaign contributions from companies that did business with DeKalb County.

May was sworn in as interim DeKalb County CEO at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday.  

"I agree with the bipartisan panel of elected officials that the allegations against Burrell Ellis directly relate to and adversely affect his ability to carry out his duties as DeKalb CEO," Deal said. "I will therefore sign an executive order to suspend him from office until his term ends or until the case against him is adjudicated. The responsibility to suspend and replace elected officials is one that I do not relish, but one I will not shy away from. The laws of Georgia give the governor the authority to appoint an interim official, but with my appointment, I will respect the spirit of the local statute which calls for the commission chairman to succeed the CEO should the office come open. I gave this appointment thoughtful consideration and I was looking for a leader who had already won approval from DeKalb voters and knows how the county operates. The new CEO meets these criteria, and I thank him for his willingness to serve."

May said he understands this is a temporary position but is honored to serve the people of DeKalb County.

"Here in DeKalb County, we are battle-tested," May said.  "What I will ask our citizens of DeKalb County is to stay strong, be confident that we are working together. You have elected us to work on your behalf and that is what we are going to do, together.  Me in this role, I am clear that this is a temporary position and I will operate in its full capacity to move this county forward."

Ellis was not available for comment regarding the governor's decision. A representative for Ellis, Jeff Dickerson, said that Ellis respects the governor's decision.

"He is going to devote all of his waking hours defending these various charges," Dickerson said. "And once vindicated, returning to the office he was elected by the citizens of DeKalb County."

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