Losing DeKalb commission candidate endorses former opponent in runoff

DeKalb County commission candidates, from left, Marshall Orson, Lauren Alexander and Michelle Long Spears.

Combined ShapeCaption
DeKalb County commission candidates, from left, Marshall Orson, Lauren Alexander and Michelle Long Spears.

A few days after vowing to ask the GBI to investigate “irregularities” in last month’s primary election, a losing DeKalb County commission candidate has endorsed one of his former opponents in the upcoming runoff.

Marshall Orson’s endorsement of Lauren Alexander, one of two candidates who will vie for the District 2 commission seat in a June 21 runoff, was announced Monday morning.

“Lauren is the candidate who has the temperament, values and integrity that we need in that position,” Orson’s statement said. It went on to describe Alexander as having integrity, compassion and an “inclusive, progressive approach” to problem solving.

ExploreDeKalb certifies results in contentious commission race

Orson is a longtime DeKalb school board member who attempted to make the jump to the county government. He ultimately finished third in the race to represent the commission district that covers parts of the Decatur, Brookhaven and Atlanta areas in northwest DeKalb.

But the path to those results — which were certified by the local elections board Friday night — was more than a little eventful.

Unofficial preliminary results posted shortly after the May 24 primary showed Orson leading the three-way race and seemingly headed to a runoff with Alexander. Michelle Long Spears was in third place.

Spears and her campaign, though, soon noticed she’d received zero election day votes in all but a few precincts. The secretary of state’s office then admitted that a series of voting machine programming errors had created an erroneous count.

DeKalb elections officials then conducted a three-day hand count of all ballots cast in the District 2 race.

That produced an altogether different outcome: Spears actually had the most votes and was headed to a runoff with Alexander. Orson was in third and out of luck.

After those results were certified last week, Orson said he would “request that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation intervene pursuant to the recent Georgia statute giving them the authority and obligation to investigation election irregularities.” But he said he wouldn’t be taking further legal recourse to challenge the results on his own behalf.

His endorsement of Alexander would seem to serve as confirmation of the latter.

“This is such a strange turn of events for Marshall and I appreciate how he is stepping up for the good of the community during an unprecedented time,” Alexander said. “I like and respect Marshall and plan to call on him for guidance and insight during the campaign and hopefully, when I take office. I am deeply grateful for his support.”

Alexander, a political newcomer, is a business and nonprofit consultant. According to her campaign website, she also “works with the Centers for Disease Control as part of the team working to reduce birth defects, and as part of the CDC’s Covid-19 Task Force.”

She has previously touted the support of Elizabeth Wilson, a DeKalb County icon who helped integrate Decatur schools and later served as the city’s first Black mayor.

Her opponent, Spears, is the founder of NP Voice, an “international social impact consulting firm.” A former member of the DeKalb County ethics board, she was endorsed by outgoing District 2 Commissioner Jeff Rader shortly after qualifying.

Spears also boasts the support of current commissioners Ted Terry and Lorraine Cochran-Johnson.

The Alexander-Spears runoff is part of a Democratic primary, but with no Republican candidates on November’s general election, the winner will become DeKalb’s newest commissioner-elect.

Early voting will be held from June 13-17.

The following advance voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day:

Combined ShapeCaption
Early voting locations for June 21 runoffs, DeKalb County.

Credit: SPECIAL

Early voting locations for June 21 runoffs, DeKalb County.

Credit: SPECIAL

Combined ShapeCaption
Early voting locations for June 21 runoffs, DeKalb County.

Credit: SPECIAL

Credit: SPECIAL