Our pick for Fulton County Commission chairman: Steve Broadbent 

Private and public sector experience, and he ain't a fan of N. Fulton secession either

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The current board is a hot, dysfunctional mess whose hostility toward North Fulton helps fuel the Milton secessionist movement.

THE LOWDOWN: Chairman John Eaves is a genial man who means well but lacks the political chops and leadership skills necessary to take control of an often-divisive board. Eaves has spent four years learning on the job without making visible progress, so it's time to give someone else a chance.

Fortunately, Broadbent is an accomplished, politically savvy candidate with management experience in the public and private sectors, having served as a deputy assistant secretary in Bush I's Treasury Department and as a regional vice president with AT&T. Just as important, he recognizes that Fulton government needs to be restructured and downsized in the wake of having turned many municipal functions — public safety, zoning, parks, etc. — over to the county's new cities.

Crucially, Broadbent also feels that Fulton should be reformed instead of being torn in half and believes Milton separatists would be appeased by a more responsive county government. One way to achieve this, he suggests persuasively, is to shift county resources to hire more tax assessors in an effort to eliminate wildly inaccurate property valuations, a major source of taxpayer frustration. We're concerned about Broadbent's desire to cut county arts funding, but he's not a conservative ideologue itching to take an ax to all spending, so we trust he'd approach such discussions thoughtfully.

It's important to note that the Fulton chairman has virtually no more authority than a district commissioner. Therefore, if the chairman is to affect changes, he must do so by leadership and consensus-building. We now know that Eaves isn't up to that task.

THE OUTLOOK: Northside anger and an energized GOP give Broadbent a real shot.

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