Photo Courtesy: Marshall Orson

Earlier this week, The Atlanta Voice published an article regarding the Democratic primary and runoff for the District 2 seat on the DeKalb County Commission. The article focused on the run-off between Michelle Long Spears and Lauren Alexander. After conversations with Spears, the paper elected to take down its article and to publish an op-ed by Spears.  Having only learned about the article after it was published and forwarded to me, I cannot speak to most of the details in the article and the specific reasons for its subsequent removal. My preference would be to not prolong this story; however, a gratuitous and factually incorrect statement by Spears, where she claims I falsely touted an endorsement by Comm. Lorraine Cochran-Johnson, requires a response.

I do appreciate that Spears’ issue likely arose from some events outside her control and issues within her campaign. However, her quick jump to accusing me of a falsehood reinforces my concerns about temperament–her claim was expedient but not factual.  To be clear, on March 15th of this year, Comm. Cochran-Johnson sent me the following text:

“Hello Marshall. I had not expected your presence, but I think you’d be great as a Commissioner. I am going to claw-back my support of Michelle. I’d agreed to help her due to Commissioner’s ask. I’m still in BOC, but I’ll reach out as soon as possible. I wish you’d spoken with Jeff earlier, because he should have endorsed you.”

Comm. Cochran-Johnson and I spoke after that text and she did agree to support me.  On April 6th I wrote to confirm her endorsement and on the next day I shared that we would use a photo from her website. At no time did she contradict or instruct us to do otherwise. As the campaign went on, it became apparent that the Commissioner essentially had endorsed two candidates, and I chalked the whole thing up to her not wanting to go back on her word and being comfortable, at the time, with either candidacy.  In fact, Comm. Cochran-Johnson and I discussed the situation and I shared that I understood her dilemma. She thanked me for not making it into an issue and that was the approach I followed.  

It is worth noting that much of the above occurred before Spears’ comments referring to the Black Lives Matter protests as “racial uprisings”.  Nevertheless, I did not accuse Spears of misrepresenting anything related to the endorsement, despite the text above, and believed it was a minor issue that was not materially important. Of course, if I had known that Spears intended to make her gratuitous and factually incorrect claim in an op-ed, it might have made sense to take another approach. Her doing so, particularly when I am not even currently a candidate, is something for voters to ponder.