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BOC hires new community development chief

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners hired a DeKalb County planning official, in a narrow, 3-2 vote, to become the county’s new community development director, on Tuesday.

Commissioners chose Patrick Ejike, the chief operating officer for a Lithonia-based management company, Aku-Bata Group, LLC. Ejike previously worked for the DeKalb County government, from 1988, to 1990, and from 1995, to 2010. He eventually rose to the position of planning and development director.

Ejike was chosen over fellow finalists, Clayton County Zoning Administrator Kc Krzic, and Collaborative Firm Vice President Jessica Guinn, according to the county commission’s secretary, Shelby Haywood.

Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, and Commissioner Michael Edmondson voted against Ejike’s appointment.

Bell said he preferred another candidate, whom he declined to identify, but he added that Ejike comes into the position with an extensive resume, with more than 20 years of management and planning experience.

“He has had a great deal of experience in DeKalb County and Lithonia, and that’s why the other commissioners wanted to hire him,” Bell said.

This is the second community development director the county has hired in less than a-year-and-a-half. The position was once held, on an interim basis, by former Clayton County Fire Chief Alex Cohilas, who was replaced, on a full-time basis, by Eric Lacefield in July 2010. Bell said Lacefield notified him “within the last few months” that he was stepping down to pursue other career opportunities.

“He told me he had found a better job,” said Bell, who declined to state, on the record, whether he was concerned that the county was now on its second community development director in 16 months.

He did say Ejike will earn an annual salary of approximately $78,000.

Ejike’s resume shows he has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Southern University, in Baton Rouge, La., and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of New Orleans.

He was an instructor at Morris Brown College in 1988, and then moved to DeKalb County, where he was a geographic information system (GIS) and mapping specialist for two years.

He then had a five-year stint as a GIS manager in Fulton County’s Department of Planning and Economic Development, according to his resume. He went back to DeKalb County, however, in 1995, where he became a planning manager, in the planning department, and eventually worked his way up to director of the county’s planning and development department.

He left DeKalb County to go for Aku-Bata Group, LLC, in May 2010, his resume shows.

Ejike –– as well as Krzic and Guinn –– was interviewed by commissioners on Tuesday, but was not present when they voted to hire him.