Blue County: Why DeKalb County voters say they voted for Biden

A sign encouraging individuals to participate in voting is displayed at the intersection of Sycamore Street and Church Street in downtown Decatur, Tuesday, November 10, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
A sign encouraging individuals to participate in voting is displayed at the intersection of Sycamore Street and Church Street in downtown Decatur, Tuesday, November 10, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Many Republicans can’t understand how roughly half of Georgia voted for Joe Biden. Many Democrats can’t understand how roughly half of Georgia voted for Donald Trump. To avoid arguments, many also have stopped talking with each other. In this two-story package, we went to the voters themselves in a red county and a blue county to share their perspectives with our readers.

DeKalb County, from Stone Mountain to Dunwoody, is among the more demographically diverse places in the state. But politically, when residents voted in the 2020 election, the consensus was clear — Joe Biden. Some 83% in the metro Atlanta county picked him over President Donald Trump.

Driving through DeKalb, “Biden-Harris,” signs still graced front lawns and storefronts a week after voting ended. Other signs support Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff for the United States Senate or Black Lives Matter — further evidence of Democratic fervor.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter visited downtown Decatur, Stone Mountain and Lithonia to talk with voters. For residents of the county, which is 55% Black and 36% white, honesty and morals emerged as themes. One woman just wanted quietness.

ExploreRed County: Why Jasper County residents say they voted for Trump

The following comments by Biden voters were edited for length and clarity.

Kazemde Ajamu

Kazemde Ajamu, 60, the owner of Black Dot Cultural Center in Lithonia, said he voted for Joe Biden. But he cautioned that the work begins now.
Kazemde Ajamu, 60, the owner of Black Dot Cultural Center in Lithonia, said he voted for Joe Biden. But he cautioned that the work begins now.

Credit: Ernie Suggs

Credit: Ernie Suggs

I picked Biden during the primaries. I thought that he was a moderate who could win back the Blue Wall states. I thought that he had the best chance of defeating, who I called a buffoon of a president, Donald Trump. Trump would boast that he has done more for Black people or he will do more for Black people with that $500 billion dedicated in his Platinum Plan. But if he wanted to do something, he didn’t have to wait until after the election. A lot of what came out of the Trump Administration and during the election period was a bunch of lies. We needed to weed through the lies and get to the facts. The actual work begins now in holding our elected officials accountable, pushing, and lobbying for legislation that directly impacts our community in a positive way.

ExploreHow Biden ended Georgia’s 24-year Republican streak

Tonnette Boyd

Tonnette Boyd voted for Joe Biden in part because of his humble nature.
Tonnette Boyd voted for Joe Biden in part because of his humble nature.

Credit: Ernie Suggs

Credit: Ernie Suggs

I am ready for a change. (Biden) is going to let people keep their healthcare. He is going to lower the taxes for people making less than $400,000 a year. And I just want things to turn back to normal and not be divided with all of this racism going on. The only thing (Trump) did was divide the nation. That is not democracy. Biden will unite the country because he is genuine. The things that have happened to him in his life have made him more humble so that he can appreciate all of us and our situations.

Michael Haverty

Michael Haverty said Joe Biden was simply "the best choice."
Michael Haverty said Joe Biden was simply "the best choice."

I was getting really scared in the Trump world and I wanted someone I could at least nominally trust. That is being borne out now, that Trump doesn’t care about the rule of law and he is not governing for me, but for himself. Joe has been around a long time and it seems he cares a little bit about being honest and listening to other people. As a father, I think it is completely Trump and the Republicans' fault that my son hasn’t been able to go to school this year. This virus has not been taken care of and now my son is doing online schooling and missing out on all the social things that a nine-year-old should be able to do right now.

Thomas Brown

Thomas Brown, the retired sheriff of DeKalb County and the public safety administrator for the city of Stone Mountain, said the current political climate makes him fear for his son.
Thomas Brown, the retired sheriff of DeKalb County and the public safety administrator for the city of Stone Mountain, said the current political climate makes him fear for his son.

Credit: Ernie Suggs

Credit: Ernie Suggs

I voted for Biden almost as a necessity of anyone but Trump. Admittedly, there were some things that Trump did that I liked, but I have serious problems with his morals. We are not respected among other nations and that is dangerous. He has sent hidden messages, whether he wanted to or not, that makes it a dangerous place for black men to walk the street and drive across this country. I have a son who is 30 years old. He is married to a Caucasian, wonderful daughter-in-law and quite frankly, I fear for their lives when they are out. That is because of Trump. I would rather have a president, whose policies may be a little bit more liberal than I like, who has the morals to give us the perspective we need and allow me to sleep at night when I think about my family. Biden, when the time comes, will at least be able to have a conversation with the Republican Party. And they will be willing to talk to him and trust him. I already feel much better for my son and my daughter-in-law’s futures.

Eva Smith

Eva Smith, a 60-year-old Army veteran, wants her Commander-in-Chief to set an example.
Eva Smith, a 60-year-old Army veteran, wants her Commander-in-Chief to set an example.

Credit: Ernie Suggs

Credit: Ernie Suggs

I wanted some quietness and I am ready to hear some maturity and somebody who can accept responsibility and allow people to hold him accountable for his decisions. I also voted for Biden because of my grandchildren. I have three sets of grandchildren. My first set is young adults from the ages of 14 to 20. It is imperative that they see character, especially in leaders. You can’t just say, ‘that’s the way he is.’ No, that is not how it is supposed to be. They need to see that when the leader of their country is speaking that their leader is speaking to the whole United States, not just his supporters. There is no them and us, just we.

Rob Clement

Rob Clement
Rob Clement

I have been embarrassed by Trump on the international stage and I feel like Biden will be a must better representative of the United States to the rest of the world. He is certainly more dignified. He has all of that foreign policy experience from when he was vice president under Barack Obama. He just doesn’t try to rile up people the way Trump does. I dislike Trump because he is very antagonistic to everyone that he doesn’t see as a supporter. He doesn’t represent me or half of the country. I hope Biden does well because that means that the country is doing well.

Michael Newsome

Michael Newsome, 55, Owner of Virgin Plus Haircare Boutique.
Michael Newsome, 55, Owner of Virgin Plus Haircare Boutique.

Credit: Ernie Suggs

Credit: Ernie Suggs

Most presidents, whether they are right or wrong, are about how they present themselves. Trump has never been presidential. Look at how argumentative he was with Biden in the debate. You are talking about a guy running the most powerful country in the world. The leadership starts from the top. He had some positive attributes as far as the economy, but when it comes to COVID and Black Lives Matter, he didn’t do anything because it didn’t impact him. He didn’t look at the people that it did affect. I don’t think he handled that well. Biden is coming in with tangible things that he wants to improve and if it isn’t working, you gotta change. Biden is change.

Kristin Diver

Kristin Diver in downtown Decatur, Tuesday, November 10, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
Kristin Diver in downtown Decatur, Tuesday, November 10, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

I like Biden’s policies and Donald Trump has been incredibly divisive. What people need to do right now is listen to each other because we have a lot more in common than we have dividing us. I hear that story, about trying to listen to the other side, more from Biden than I do from Trump. Some of Trump’s ideas are decent. Yes, it would be good to do something about China, but the way he has done it has hurt the U.S. more than it has helped. Biden would do a much better job of addressing some of the racial unrest. Biden also will be better at handling the COVID pandemic. There is so much pain out there. Because I am a mom, I have to tell my children every day, do not behave the way the president of our country behaves. This is not how we talk to people. We can still disagree and not be nasty. Working together to solve these issues is what we need to do.

Wanda Battle

Wanda Battle with her granddaughter.
Wanda Battle with her granddaughter.

Credit: Ernie Suggs

Credit: Ernie Suggs

Biden’s campaign and interviews showed that he is for the people and wants to make a change. Biden and Harris spoke directly to us and our needs. Trump was not an option, because I was tired of the same old thing. He wasn’t talking about real change. Just chaos. Having everyone look at things in black and white and I was tired. At first Biden came off kind of strong, then when Harris came, I started to see his heart and compassion and how much he cared. That changed my heart. I have 14 grandchildren and I am doing this for them.

Billy “Guitar Red” Walls

Billy “Guitar Red” Walls
Billy “Guitar Red” Walls

Credit: Ernie Suggs

Credit: Ernie Suggs

We needed a change. It is 2020 and Trump has shown us that he doesn’t care about nothing. He showed us that he doesn’t care about us financially. He showed us he doesn’t care about our health. He showed us he doesn’t care about the polar bears and the environment. There is nothing but confusion and death around Trump. Biden is talking about how we got to pull together and get this country together. He is talking about mental health. He is talking about the polar bears and what this earth is doing. I am very big on the environment. This is the last thing we got. Don’t think a meteorite can’t come here and kill us like it did the dinosaurs. None of these things were talked about before under the Trump regime.

Kristin Haverty

Kristin Haverty
Kristin Haverty

Our president needs to be someone who is respected and who speaks for all. It has been clear since the very beginning that Trump is neither trustworthy nor honest. He has destroyed our reputation around the world. He has gone against our allies. His environmental record is disastrous. His economic record is disastrous. He has completely failed the world on the pandemic. His record of inciting division and being blatantly racist and supporting people who are blatantly racist. All of those things are unacceptable for a leader, let alone a person. Biden ran a great campaign. I absolutely love Kamala Harris and what she brings to the ticket. Biden represents years of experience as the former vice president. Some people think of that as a detriment, but I think it can be a strength. He has consistently shown what I consider what a president is. Someone who is level-headed, respects the rule of law, and wants to bring this country together.

Douglas Thompkins

Douglas Thompkins, 46. Owner of Flavaz Styles Barbershop in Lithonia.
Douglas Thompkins, 46. Owner of Flavaz Styles Barbershop in Lithonia.

What Trump stands for, and the negativity brought, we need some positivity brought back to the White House. That is Biden. Obamacare is very important. Owning a barbershop, we have to deal with our own health benefits. When you trying to apply for insurance as an independent contractor, the prices were ridiculous before Obamacare came along. And with Trump locking up our kids. I have a six-year-old daughter. I can’t imagine her being separated or locked up in a cage not knowing where her mommy and daddy are. She gets scared if she gets lost in a grocery store. There was a lot of evil in the White House.

DeKalb County at a glance

Population: 759,297

2020 presidential vote: Biden 83% / Trump 16%

Household median income: $59,280

Race: Black 55%; White 36%; Hispanic 8.5%; Asian 6.5%

Bachelor’s degree or higher: 43%

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

ExploreRed County: Why Jasper County residents say they voted for Trump