Sutton and Bradshaw face off in District 4 runoff debate
By Miranda Hawkins, contributor
More than 100 people packed out a room Thursday night at the St. Timothy UMC church in Stone Mountain to hear a debate between District 4 County Commission candidate Steve Bradshaw and incumbent Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton.
Samson Burrell and Joe Arrington jointly moderated the debate.
Tensions have run high between the two candidates. Days before the May 24 primaries, Sutton circulated a mailer accusing featuring a picture of Bradshaw’s wife, who is white. She later asked why he was trying to “hide” her from voters. Then at the last debate, Sutton’s supporters accused Bradshaw of having shady real-estate dealings. Bradshaw, who denied the accusation, called into question Sutton’s integrity.
Sutton didn’t appear until moments before the debate began. She, along with her supporters, also made a quick exit once the debate came to a close.
A seemingly at ease Bradshaw stuck to his platform of integrity and change. The audience laughed as he vowed to “stay out of the news.”
“If you’re going about the business of governing properly, taking care of citizens, and doing what you’re supposed to do, it’s kind of boring,” he said.
Sutton’s responses were impassioned. She ensured the audience that she was not responsible for the county’s issues.
“There are problems,” she admitted. “But they’re not me.”
Sutton later added, “Whatever smear you hear, that’s not important. What’s important is results.”
It was clear audience members were not wooed by Sutton’s performance. Except for a handful of supporters, no other person in the crowd clapped or acknowledged her responses. While most of the audience was warm toward Bradshaw, they were openly hostile toward their current commissioner.
Bradshaw, who was alloted time to ask Sutton one question, asked the commissioner with whose money she was funding her lawsuit against the Dekalb Ethics Board. The Ethics Board initially intended to investigate charges Sutton who had made questionable purchases with her county-issued card.
Sutton said, “Well I am surprised you don’t know that. But if I file a lawsuit, I pay for it.”
She said the county’s Ethics Board is “unconstitutional” and there were “state legislators who knew it.”
Sutton said she should be re-elected because she works for the people.
Sutton and Bradshaw shook hands as the debate came to a close.
Voters will cast their ballot in the runoff July 26.