DeKalb CEO candidates answer questions at Decatur debate

The three candidates hoping to become DeKalb County’s next CEO took the mic to answer submitted questions from the community during a debate at Hawkins Hall in Decatur’s Legacy Park.

The event, hosted by the Decatur Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Leadership DeKalb; We Love Buford Highway; and The Champion Newspaper, was held on April 25. Some of those who pre-registered for the event also submitted questions that were asked by moderator Bill Crane.

Crane kicked off the debate by asking each candidate – former county commissioners Steve Bradshaw, Lorraine Cochran-Johnson, and Larry Johnson – what accomplishment each candidate was most proud of while working as a county commissioner:

“If I had to choose one single thing, it is bringing HOPE to DeKalb,” said Cochran-Johnson, referring to Operation HOPE, a program which provides financial education at no cost to participants. “After being elected as a commissioner and understanding the diverse needs of the district, I immediately sought to create self-help opportunities. I then started a business expo to help create businesses in unincorporated and south DeKalb. It was at that time I began to realize even individuals with higher incomes had credit challenges or had not purchased first homes. That’s when we brought Operation HOPE to DeKalb, and since that time, we have issued more than $22 million in down payment assistance and first-time home loans. We have restored the credit of more than 1,300 individuals. Economic viability is very important and I’m most proud of empowering people to have the American dream.”

“I think one of my greatest accomplishments was in 2003, I became the tie-breaking vote to make sure we bring sidewalks to central and south DeKalb,” said Johnson. “We decided to go around to the schools first because our children need to be able to walk to school safely. We also eliminated the vinyl siding that proliferated south DeKalb (homes) and made stucco or brick a requirement, as well as stopping builders from burying debris in the community that would create sinkholes. We made it mandatory that new neighborhoods must have streetlights and utilities underground. Then I became the president of the National Association of Counties (NACo) and championed a $973 billion infrastructure bill that got passed by working with President Joe Biden. It will help build bridges, sidewalks, and pave our roads. I worked at the local level and national level to make sure our county had better infrastructure and that has led to a better quality of life in DeKalb County.”

“I think if I had to distill it to one singular vote, I’m very proud of my very first budget vote,” said Bradshaw. “As a brand-new commissioner in 2017, I was the deciding vote to break the impasse on the budget. When I took office, DeKalb County was suffering from a structural budget deficit. Now we are in a time of great bounty and fund balance surplus. That’s a daunting task. DeKalb County’s budget is over $1.6 billion, and I was a brand-new commissioner. But I did not shirk my responsibility, I did not hide behind the fact that I was new and I did not abstain. I’m proud of that vote I took and I’m proud of the fiscal health we have in DeKalb County right now.”

Each candidate also gave answers pertaining to public safety, crime, parks and recreation, education, infrastructure, water and sewage services and other questions submitted by the public.

The debate can be watched in its entirety at

Advanced voting runs through May 17. Election Day for the General Primary will be held May 21.


One thought on “DeKalb CEO candidates answer questions at Decatur debate

  • April 26, 2024 at 8:04 pm

    Lorraine might need new glasses but the real question I have is what will they do to put an end to the monthly water main breaks and the mess of congestion that the recent traffic calming initiatives have caused? We need new smart traffic lights and some of the car lanes back that have been closed off for bike lanes practically no one uses.


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