Outgoing DeKalb commissioner endorses potential successor

Longtime DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader (right) announced Tuesday he would not be seeking reelection. On Wednesday, he held a press conference to endorse a candidate seeking to fill his shoes: Michelle Long Spears (left).

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Longtime DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader (right) announced Tuesday he would not be seeking reelection. On Wednesday, he held a press conference to endorse a candidate seeking to fill his shoes: Michelle Long Spears (left).

A day after announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election, longtime DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader endorsed a potential successor.

Rader offered his support for fellow Democrat Michelle Long Spears — a Brookhaven resident and former member of the DeKalb ethics board — during a Wednesday morning press conference in downtown Decatur. The outgoing commissioner said Spears has “the temperament, work ethic and background to be effective in office.”

“She believes in protecting neighborhoods, quality service delivery and the wisdom of the public that she seeks to serve,” Rader said. “While the decision is in their hands, I hope that voters in District 2 will see the same in her that I did and will elect her to this important seat.”

ExploreDeKalb commissioner won't seek a fifth term

Rader, who will remain in office through the end of the year, was first elected to the DeKalb commission in 2006.

He has a reputation for navigating complex issues with close attention to detail and, with DeKalb’s unique commission-CEO form of government, has never been shy about challenging decisions or proposals made by the county administration. He has more recently led fights to give the county and its school board more say in tax abatements offered to developers by local municipalities.

Candidate qualifying for this year’s election cycle continues through the end of the week. But as of Tuesday, Spears was the only person who had signed on to try and succeed Rader in District 2, which covers parts of the Atlanta, Brookhaven, Decatur and Druid Hills areas in northwestern DeKalb.

Spears is the founder and CEO of an “international social impact consulting firm” called NP Voice, which offers fundraising and strategy support to nonprofit organizations. In addition to her recent service on DeKalb’s reconstituted Board of Ethics, she is also a graduate of Leadership DeKalb.

A mother of three, she has master’s degrees in both business administration and public policy.

Spears said Wednesday that transparency, oversight, accountability and “a strong moral and ethical compass” would be top priorities as a commissioner.

“I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work for residents of our community starting on Day 1,” she said. “And like I have in all my work with dozens of nonprofits in our region ... I’ll be focused on bringing people together and uniting us behind a common vision to create a better DeKalb for all.”

Two other DeKalb commission seats are also on the ballot this election season.

Sitting commissioners Larry Johnson (District 3 in southwest DeKalb) and Lorraine Cochran-Johnson (Super District 7, which covers the eastern half of DeKalb) have already qualified to run for re-election — and will have challengers in May 24′s Democratic primary.

As of Tuesday, Andrew Walter Bell had qualified to challenge Johnson.

Gregory Adams, a former commissioner who lost to Cochran-Johnson in 2018, had signed up for a rematch. Another candidate named D. Marie Monroe had also qualified to run in District 7.