Board of Commissioners

Stephens County was created by an act of the legislature in 1905 as political subdivision of the State of Georgia. It exists for civil and political purposes, and acts under powers given to it by the state. The county operates under the Commission-Administrator form of local government with the Stephens County Board of Commissioners as the governing authority. 

The five members of the Board of Commissioners are elected at-large to four-year terms on a staggered basis. The Chairman of the Board of Commissioners is elected annually by the commissioners. Each Commissioner is given a specific work assignment, and asked to serve as a liaison for the Board in the area assigned.

The Board appoints a county administrator who serves as the chief administrative officer to carry out the policies and handle day-to-day responsibilities.                                                        

The Commissioners set direction and formulate policies for the county government, develop and approve the budget, authorize expenditures, set tax rates, make key appointments to boards, committees, authorities, etc. and approve or disapprove specific actions, such as rezoning of private property.

The board's strives to:

  • Provide the highest quality service possible to county residents in a fiscally responsible, timely, efficient and courteous manner
  • Conduct business in an open and professional manner without favoritism
  • Manage, spend and account for tax dollars in a responsible manner
  • Respond to the needs and concerns of the residents of the county

The Board meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. and the fourth Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in a public forum to discuss, receive input on and vote on current "open" issues. Work sessions to discuss items on the agenda are at the beginning of each scheduled meeting. Called meetings are scheduled and advertised as needed. The board also conducts public hearings to consider zoning requests.

The County's administrative staff and day-to-day operations are managed by the County Administrator who works closely with the Board of Commissioners to ensure that effective communication is maintained between the Board and the county's employees.

Michelle Ivester  Email

Commissioner, Post 1

Michelle Ivester is a native of Stephens County.   She obtained her B.A. degree and her M.B.A at Piedmont College. She is a Real Estate Broker for Talan Properties, a local real estate firm.  She has served on numerous boards within the county such as Chamber of Commerce, Ga Upstate Lakes Board of Realtors, Board of Elections, and Concerned Citizens of Stephens County.  Michelle is also a graduate of the Ga Economic Development Academy.  She is a Rotarian with the Toccoa Chapter.  Michelle is a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church as has one child, Talan Grafton.  She was elected to fill an unexpired term in March 2014 and was re-elected to a 4 year term in November 2014. 



Debbie Whitlock Email

Commissioner, Post 2
Debbie Whitlock has an AA degree from Truett McConnell College; a Bachelor of Sociology Degree from the University of Georgia; and a Juris Doctorate  from Florida Coastal School of Law. Ms. Whitlock opened her Law Office in 2006. Debbie has three children and three grandchildren.

Ms. Whitlock was elected to the County Commission for a four year term in 2013; she is currently serving on several committees in the County which include the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce, and Roads and Bridges Committee.

Dennis Bell  Email


Commissioner, Post 3
Dennis Bell is a Stephens County native with 23 years of law enforcement experience. For 17 years he was a supervisor and is currently serving as Police Chief in Comer, Ga.

Dennis is a State Certified General and Specialized instructor and has taught classes to law enforcement officers throughout Georgia. He has also completed several hundred hours of Supervision, Management, and Executive classes from the state as well as the Federal Training Centers throughout the Country. He is serving his second term as a Board Member for the Peace Officers Association of Georgia.

 Dennis was elected to the Board of Commissioners for a four year term in 2013 and currently serves on the E911 Advisory and Emergency Services committes.

Stanley London Email

Commissioner, Post 4

Stanley is a Stephens County native and graduated from Stephens County High School.  He started his cabinet business, Southern Pine Woodcraft, in 1991. Stanley is married to Angie London and they have a daughter Lexie, a 11th grader at SCHS. Stanley was elected to the County Commission for a two-year term in 2008 and re-elected for a four-year term in 2010.  He serves on several committees in the county which include the SC Health Board, Joint Service Commission, Development Authority and Citizens Advisory Panel for litter and blight.

Dean Scarborough Email

Commissioner, Post 5

A resident of Stephens County since 1982, he and his wife Dee, have one son, Chris.  Dean is an Oglethorpe County High School graduate and received a B.A. from the University of Georgia.  He was the owner and operator of Scarborough's Men's Stores for 25 years and currently works part-time in real estate sales. He has completed his County Commissioners Certification