You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Bradshaw defeats Sutton in runoff, pledging to reform DeKalb

Loud and clear, DeKalb County voters spoke Tuesday, voting overwhelmingly to boot Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton from office to make way for a candidate who campaigned on the promise of clean government.

Steve Bradshaw, a business development manager and Army veteran, defeated Sutton in a 3-to-1 landslide in the Democratic Party runoff election.

In a county government beset by corruption allegations, Bradshaw said voters rejected divisive politics and unresponsive representation. Bradshaw said he’ll join the “next generation of leadership,” along with DeKalb CEO candidate Mike Thurmond and incoming District Attorney Sherry Boston.

“We have a new chapter in DeKalb,” Bradshaw said in an interview. “The people can get ready for better governance. I kept my campaign positive, and I think people responded to that.”

In a heavily Democratic district, Bradshaw will be the favorite in the November general election against Republican Willie Willis.

As his supporters chanted “Steve, Steve, Steve,” Bradshaw said the Stone Mountain-area district he’ll represent had enough of Sutton. She faced numerous allegations of unethical behavior. Some questioned the tactics she employed during her campaign after she sent a campaign flier comparing Bradshaw to a house slave.

“The dragon has been slayed tonight,” Bradshaw said in his victory speech at Village Corner German Restaurant in Stone Mountain. “My opponent took it low. She debased herself. … We kept it high.”

Sutton, who was first elected to the commission in 2008, didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

His election could have a far-reaching impact on the DeKalb Commission. In the past, the commission has split on key votes into factions representing the northern and southern halves of the county. Those divides showed through on votes to build a soccer stadium, pass a county budget and build an animal shelter.

Bradshaw said he will work with all commissioners in an effort to unify the county.

“You know what you’re getting with Steve Bradshaw,” said Jana Johnson, who worked on his campaign. “Steve is not only going to be a commissioner for District 4. Steve is going to be the commissioner for DeKalb County.”

Some of those casting votes Tuesday said he could help overhaul DeKalb’s troubled government.

“It’s time for a change. Let’s get some new blood in there,” said Earnest Killum. “They need to focus on the citizens more than personal agendas.”

Many said they didn’t trust Sutton as she faced repeated allegations of wrongdoing.

“Honesty and integrity — that was very important to me,” said Trish Huguley. “I don’t like seeing people on the news for doing something wrong.”

Pending ethics complaints accuse Sutton of misspending government money, paying her boyfriend for consulting services and her personal attorney for advice, and buying a portrait of President Barack Obama at a charity auction. She also allegedly used county employees at a political fundraising event and received free YMCA memberships.

Sutton has said all her spending and actions were appropriate. A judge put the ethics cases on hold after Sutton sued the DeKalb Board of Ethics, saying it’s operating unconstitutionally because members are appointed by private organizations.

Commissioner Kathie Gannon, who supported Bradshaw’s campaign, said he will change how DeKalb’s government does business.

“There’s been a void that has been occupied by someone who has not been doing her job,” Gannon said. “That’s a very huge difference, to have someone step in there and listen to the people of the Fourth District.”

When the new term starts in January, more than half of the DeKalb Commission will have been replaced in the last two years. If Bradshaw wins the general election, he’ll join newcomers Nancy Jester and Mereda Davis Johnson on the board, along with one of eight candidates running for District 7, which covers the eastern half of the county.

The last time a county commissioner lost a contested race in DeKalb was in 1992, when Elaine Boyer defeated Jean Williams. Boyer didn’t leave until she pleaded guilty to defrauding taxpayers and taking kickbacks, resulting in a one-year federal prison sentence.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Handel cracks Georgia GOP ‘glass ceiling’
Handel cracks Georgia GOP ‘glass ceiling’

It might not have seemed that way, but the scene at a stuffed Roswell restaurant on the eve of last week’s runoff was a quietly remarkable one. It was the night before the 6th Congressional District vote, and Gov. Nathan Deal was campaigning for a former opponent his staff once described as a spout of “unhinged blather.” Sprinkled...
A new health care debate, Donald Trump, and a spike in breast cancer

Just in time for the renewed, fast-tempo debate over health care in Washington, public health researchers at Georgia State University have produced a pair of studies that help underline just what’s at stake. The more provocative of the two papers has intriguing national implications: In large swaths of the United States, swing areas that handed...
Georgians: Fix health care prices, stop partisanship
Georgians: Fix health care prices, stop partisanship

After the U.S. Senate finally revealed its proposed federal health care bill, advocates revved up their rhetoric with extreme positions, loud cheers and denunciations. “INJUSTICE!” blared the handmade sign of a protester Friday outside U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s office. The Senate’s bill “is morally repugnant,” said...
Will Georgia’s 6th District do this all again in 2018?
Will Georgia’s 6th District do this all again in 2018?

Despite initial relief among Georgia’s 6th District residents that the barrage of campaign ads has come to an end, the reprieve might not last too long. “Now we know what New Hampshire looks like,” said Chip Lake, a GOP consultant based in Georgia. The question is, with 2018 just around the corner, will this year’s astronomical...
Trump signs law making it easier to fire bad VA employees
Trump signs law making it easier to fire bad VA employees

President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Friday that would expedite the process for top officials to fire problematic employees at the long-troubled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The aim of the accountability legislation is to make it easier to root out the bad apples who have helped contribute to the cascade of scandals at the VA, harming...
More Stories