Steve Bradshaw defeats Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton in runoff election(left to right) Allyson Hepburn, Steve Bradshaw and Diane Bradshaw. Photo by Rebecca Breyer
This story has been updated.
Steve Bradshaw trounced incumbent District 4 Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton on Tuesday, July 26, defeating the incumbent who was seeking a third term in office.
Bradshaw received 75 percent of the votes cast in the runoff for the Democratic primary, getting 5,853 votes compared to Sutton’s 1,907 votes.
He will face Republican Willie J. Willis in the November general election.
“I am proud of the people of DeKalb County,” Bradshaw told Decaturish. “They are tired of the trash. They want something better, so hopefully I can deliver that. I feel good. I am excited to get to work for the people of District 4.”
Sutton did not return a message from Decaturish seeking comment.
It’s a reversal of fortunes for Bradshaw, who lost to Sutton almost just as badly when he challenged her in 2012. She won 73 percent of the vote then.
Bradshaw, who works as a sales business development manager at Delta Global Services and also is a U.S. Army veteran, had plenty of attack angles on Sutton, who has been a magnet for controversy during her time on the commission.
Even before her 2012 reelection bid, questions were raised regarding her campaign spending. Jim Walls, who runs the Atlanta Unfiltered website, wrote that despite being saddled with debt, Sutton was still able to personally spend $69,000 to win the DeKalb County Commission seat in 2008.
She has a penchant for alienating some of the politicians in her district. Former Clarkston mayor Emanuel Ransom, who was defeated in the 2013 elections, told Decaturish in 2014, “She’s one of the worst commissioners we’ve ever had in the fourth district.” She was accused of personally holding up a contract to reconstruct the fire station in Avondale Estates. Sutton said at the time she delayed awarding the contract because she wanted to explore the possibility of entering into an intergovernmental agreement with Avondale Estates that would ensure the city would pay a “fair market rate” for the station if the city ever wants to buy it.
The fire station reopened last year.
Sutton is also facing questions concerning her use of her county-issued purchasing card. She sued the county’s ethics board, claiming it is unconstitutional. That effectively put the complaints against Sutton on hold while the lawsuit is pending. That has spared her from headlines regarding the rulings of the county’s Ethics Board. Her former assistant was recently found to have used her county issued card to make personal purchases and was fined $1,000, according to the AJC.
There are questions surrounding her free memberships to the YMCA. Sutton voted in favor of a partnership between the county and YMCA, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. The memberships were suspended after media inquiries.
Sutton was criticized for her handling of the issues surrounding the Brannon Hill Condominium Complex in her district. Brannon Hill has made national news after being featured in a Vice.com article. Brannon Hill Condominium Complex residents in DeKalb County are desperate for help in cleaning up their Clarkston neighborhood where burned out buildings, piles of trash and debris, open drug deals and violence have been the norm for many years.
She also recently came under fire for holding a festival in her district. She said the festival wasn’t political or related to her reelection campaign.
In the waning days of the May 24 primary and July 26 runoff, Sutton made an issue out of Bradshaw’s military service and accused Bradshaw of trying to “hide” his white wife from voters.
Bradshaw has promised to be ethical in his conduct and accessible to his constituents.
Decaturish has reached out to Sutton seeking comment.
Here are more photos from Bradshaw’s watch party. Decaturish asked Sutton about her watch party plans so we could send a photographer, but we never received a response.