DeKalb Commissioner Barnes-Sutton, Hidden in Plain View
(APN) ATLANTA — DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton (District 4), who is up for reelection in the May 24, 2016 Primary Election, has failed to respond to several attempts to reach her and has been almost completely inaccessible to Atlanta Progressive News, other news media, community organizations hosting forums, and numerous DeKalb County citizen stakeholders.
She has been this inaccessible, while at the same time, she has hosted several community events in recent weeks, utilizing Dekalb County taxpayer dollars to promote herself in controlled settings with a controlled message.
So, how could a Commissioner be so hidden, in plain view? This article will explore the juxtaposition.
SHARON BARNES-SUTTON, WHERE ARE YOU, AND WHY WON’T YOU RETURN OUR CALLS AND MESSAGES?
It all started when Atlanta Progressive News attempted to reach out to the Sharon Barnes-Sutton reelection campaign.
Barnes-Sutton has received a lot of negative press around a number of ethics issues as well as policy issues in her District, especially from Pine Lake City Councilman George Chidi.
APN’s News Editor, the present writer, had met Barnes-Sutton in 2013 at a fundraiser for Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong (District 5), and, believing she would be accessible, wanted to give the Commissioner an opportunity to tell her side of the story as well as complete an APN Candidate Questionnaire.
Primary opponent Steve Bradshaw has proved to be most accessible, returning a voicemail left by APN within 24 hours. APN left a message today for primary opponent Lance Hammonds, and has no doubt he will return the call.
As a preliminary matter, Barnes-Sutton provided no phone number or website on her qualifying information.
Her reelection website provides only a phone number for her Commission Office, which is actually inappropriate because Commission staff are not supposed to be handling campaign-related calls.
Shortly after Qualifying, APN called Warren Mosby, candidate for District 6, who previously did consulting work for Barnes-Sutton, and asked for her phone number.
On March 23, 2016, Mosby texted a number; however, upon calling the number, APN received an error message. On March 28, APN notified Mosby, who said he would “check it out.” APN sent a follow-up text on April 05, but received no reply.
On March 29, 2016, APN sent Barnes-Sutton a message on her Facebook page, but received no reply.
On April 05, 2016, in an act of desperation, APN also left a message for Barnes-Suttons’s Commission Office, even though it was not a campaign office, at least in an attempt to obtain a campaign phone number. Again, no reply.
Chidi tells APN that Mr. Mosby similarly had sent him a nonworking number for Barnes-Sutton several months ago, and accused him of “running interference” for the Commissioner.
BARNES-SUTTON MISSES CANDIDATE FORUM,, BUT HOSTS DISTRICT EVENTS
Chidi criticized Barnes-Sutton in a Facebook post dated April 07, 2016, for missing a District 4 Candidate Forum that was held at the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur, Georgia, and was co-sponsored by several organizations.
“I’m at a forum for District 4 commission candidates. Lance Hammonds is here. Steve Bradshaw is here. Sharon Barnes Sutton… is not,” Chidi wrote.
The present writer commented that APN had been having difficulties reaching her.
“Welcome to my world, Matthew,” Jim Walls, a reporter with Georgia Unfiltered, commented.
“Story of my life, Matthew. I’m an elected official and I can’t get her to return a phone call. It’s a running joke around here,” Chidi wrote.
And yet, while missing the Forum and avoiding media and stakeholders, Barnes-Sutton continues to host community events, according to numerous emails sent from DeKalb County to APN.
“Join Commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton as she presents the 2016 Good Day Festival with special performances by: Silk, B.O.B, Jagged Edge and MANY more. This is a FREE event for the public!!!” one County email, dated March 29, 2016, said. The event was advertised for April 03.
According to another email, an Easter Eggstravaganza scheduled for March 27, 2016, was postponed due to inclement weather, while a “Spring Fling” was held April 02, 2016.
In an interview with Atlanta Progressive News, Chidi said that Barnes-Suttons’s absence became more noticeable around 2012 and 2013, and has “accelerated” since then.
“Community groups, like the folks from PRISM, Pride Rings in Stone Mountain, ask them, nobody’s turning their phone calls. Subdivision leaders, the various subdivisions in the fourth District – she’s not returning anybody’s phone calls unless she knows she’s an ally,” Chidi said.
“Talk to the Mayor and City Council of Avondale, talk to the folks over at Brannon Hill,” Chidi said, referring to a dilapidated condominium complex in Clarkston, Georgia.
“I don’t know what’s happening – she thinks she can ride under the radar and win because she’s an incumbent.”