The race for the DeKalb County Commissioners seat in District Two is being contested between Michelle Long Spears and Lauren Alexander. However, there is a case brewing that involves the alleged usage of a name, image, and likeness in the hopes of landing key endorsements that could swing the outcome of the race.
Michelle Long Spears, a Brookhaven resident, entered the runoff after winning 43% of the vote in the May 24th primary election. Lauren Alexander finished in second place, securing 30% of the vote. Marshall Orson had 3,928 votes (25% of the vote) and Donald Broussard had 133 votes before he dropped out of the race.
Spears, who is white, is currently accused of lying about securing the endorsements of prominent Black Democrats in DeKalb County in hopes of winning the District Two Commissioners race, according to sources close to The Atlanta Voice. Spears first used the photo of Lorraine Cochran-Johnson, the current District Seven Commissioner in a campaign flier. Cochran-Johnson said she only spoke to Spears and did not formally endorse Spears.
State Rep. Shea Roberts, D-Sandy Springs, pulled her support from Spears’s campaign because she did not approve of Spears’s conduct. Following the death of George Floyd, Spears referred to the marches as, “a racial uprising,” causing Roberts to withdraw her support. Meanwhile, Cochran-Johnson called the Spears campaign and told her to remove her headshot and name from the campaign website because there was no official endorsement.
Currently, Spears does not have any endorsements from any Black Democrats representing DeKalb County in local or statewide offices. However, Gwinnett County Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson has endorsed the Spears campaign. Notably, outgoing DeKalb County Commissioner in District Two, Jeff Rader, and Ted Terry, the former Clarkston mayor who now sits as the DeKalb County Commissioner in Super District Six each have endorsed Spears.
Terry’s conflict with Cochran-Johnson stemmed from the fact Terry used Cochran-Johnson’s name, image and likeness in Spears’s campaign literature. Terry has served as a proxy campaign manager for the Spears campaign, according to sources close to Lauren Alexander and Marshall Orson. Cochran-Johnson also spoke with Spears and Terry multiple times regarding the false endorsement.
The Spears campaign conducted a robocall last weekend with Cochran-Johnson’s name on it, falsely signaling support for Spears. Cochran-Johnson asked the Spears campaign to not use her name in the robocall. The Spears campaign refused.
Moreover, Spears and Terry attacked Cochran-Johnson because it was important for Spears’s candidacy to have Cochran-Johnson’s endorsement. As a result, Cochran-Johnson refused to formally endorse a candidate in the race.
What makes these allegations more damning is that Spears was a former committee member on the DeKalb County Board of Ethics, prior to running for the County Commissioner’s seat. Spears was appointed to a three-year term. She founded the nonprofit NP Voice. She is also the former president of the Dresden Square Homeowners Association and is a member of the Leadership DeKalb Class of 2021.
Spears has not responded to requests for comment.
Brookhaven, Chamblee, Decatur, Tucker, and portions of East Atlanta make up District Two.
Previously, this race was delayed in certification due to what was described as “a perfect storm of issues.” DeKalb Elections Board Chair Keisha Smith explained that there was a technical glitch that did not completely remove a candidate, Don Broussard, from the reporting system and votes were incorrectly assigned to the candidates when they were reported.
Ironically, Spears said her team has been fighting for election integrity not just for this race, but for statewide races in November.
However, in a statement released by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office on June 3rd, they concluded the issue “should have been caught by earlier checks in the process, but it was not. However, it was caught as soon as election returns started to come in. In fact, it was glaringly obvious. This is a sign that the system of multiple checks and balances works.”
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