Wednesday was the first time the 8 leading candidates for Mayor of Atlanta were in the same room. In what some call a beauty pageant, former Atlanta C.O.O. Peter Aman, District 11 City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, District 39 State Senator Vincent Fort, District 2 City Councilman Kwanza Hall, City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Post 2 (At Large) City Councilwoman Mary Norwood, Atlanta Workforce Development Agency Director Michael Sterling, and former City Council President Cathy Woolard were on display in front of Former Mayor and Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell and many of the most influential campaign donors in the city.
Each candidate was asked two questions:
- What will you be able to do for the city that your opponents can’t?
- What is your path to victory? (Where will your votes come from?)
I was going to give a grade to our candidates for their specificity; but considering that they were each given a single minute to answer each question that probably wouldn’t be fair, as a minute is an absurdly short amount of time to give someone in which to describe their platform. Instead, we will simply present each candidates statements about each particular topic and let you decide who deserves praise.
What did the candidates actually say about policy?
“I have the integrity to lead Atlanta for all Atlantans because I am not a politician, unlike the others on this stage.”
“Others on this stage, during this same time, and before, made bad judgements, like expanding the penchant cost, and issuing no bid contracts from their council accounts, including one to his brother. I am referring of course to Mary Norwood and Ceasar Mitchell… and Mr. Mitchell, he has repeatedly violated the ethics code of the city of Atlanta, and is under investigation even as we speak.”
“I will tell the people of Atlanta the truth, I have been saying that Atlanta has lost it’s way, Atlanta City Hall has lost it’s way not the people… There are people there who are more interested in serving their own interests then the people’s interest. That assertion was confirmed last week… (referencing the arrest and guilty plea of Elvin Mitchell Jr. for paying over $1 million in bribes for city contracts)… My opponents have all been at city hall in one form or another during this time.
“I will bring total transparency to our city, It is time for us to be completely openly accountable to our citizens. I will have a forensic audit of all funds, I will do a top to bottom analysis of the budget, and I will overhaul the bidding process, which desperately needs it. I will put all expenses online, including checks.”
“As C.O.O. I helped hire more police officers than ever before in the city of Atlanta.”
“I am concerned about an elephant in the room that city hall doesn’t want to talk about and that is gangs. The murder rate in the last five years is up 43% from about 84 murders to about 112 murders last year, and a lot of those murders are based on gangs.”
“We will have a neighborhood centered police program.”
“With crime, we need to not only take care of our Police, which I have worked on, but we need a new section of the juvenile code, to put in a repeat offender provision.”
“I’m going to be better on Public Safety, I’m the only one up here with any experience in law enforcement, the only one who has investigated, indicted, and prosecuted crimes, prosecuted corruption… [Atlanta] would have a mayor that understands that crime is a nuanced issue where you can’t have a half-baked political solution, you need solution that will tackle it, go after the root causes of it…”
“When it comes to dealing with Education, I’m going to call Meria Carstarphen and say we’re going to give you these deeds, and then let’s create.”
“We will use transit oriented development using the S Concept based on MARTA and T-Splost and roll out the best management program possible to get transportation working.”
“Here in Atlanta we have three transit agencies, [Beltline, Streetcar, and Marta]. When I’m mayor I’m going to call Keith Parker and say let’s come together let’s consolidate our transit plan, and then we are going to hand over transit to Marta, because we are not a transit agency.”
“In addition to the technology issues and the traffic signalization, we need a subway from the western region into the Lindbergh Marta Center. That’s where we need to get people up and down our Marta Spine, into Buckhead, and everywhere they need to go.”
“When I was on the Atlanta City Council I recognized transportation was our biggest problem and that was quite some time ago, and so I recognized when I saw Ryan Gravel’s Beltline thesis that we would orient transit and build density in our communities
“I have an insight in how the private sector creates jobs and how the private sector can work with the public sector to lift up communities.”
“As C.O.O. I helped the Mayor balance the budget, but when Ms. Norwood last ran for Mayor even the media said her proposals would bust the budget.”
“I lead on the sale of Turner Field, which will transform an under served community. Rather than bare the cost of an empty stadium, you will now see a $300 million dollar redevelopment take place.”
“I’m the only one with a proven track record for bringing neighborhoods forward, neighborhoods that have been left behind. I’m going to create a neighborhood renaissance.”
“I also recognized our city’s history as the birthplace of the civil rights movement, 15 years ago passed the only comprehensive Civil-Rights Bill in the state of Georgia, and you know as business people that that has held us in good stead for attracting businesses, conventions, sports events, and people to live here.”
Find the full video here.