By John Schaffner

The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods (BCON) and Northwest Community Alliance (NCA) — both organizations that have representation from Buckhead neighborhoods — will each be holding public forums in September involving the primary candidates in the Atlanta mayoral race.

The NCA’s forum, which will involve four of the top candidates in the race, comes first on at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 at Puritan Mill, 916 Joseph Lowery Blvd, near the intersection at Marietta Street.

The participants in the scheduled 90-minute debate will be Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders, Atlanta At Large Councilwoman Mary Norwood, Georgia State Sen. Kasim Reed and attorney Jesse Spikes.

The debate will be moderated by NCA board member and Atlantic Station VP Brian Leary and will include a panel of NCA neighborhood representatives.

The focus of the NCA debate on Sept. 16 will be issues of neighborhood involvement, development and smart growth. The NCA is soliciting questions from neighborhood groups, business interests and individuals that are to be asked during the debate. Questions should be emailed to Shaun Green at

The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods Mayor Forum, held in conjunction with Trinity Presbyterian Church, will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. at the church, which is located at 3003 Howell Mill Road, NW.

The five candidates confirmed for that forum are Borders, Norwood, Reed, Spikes and Glenn Thomas. Dick Williams, host of Fox 5 TV’s Georgia Gang Sunday political talk show, and Bill Nigut, former WSB-TV political reporter and now Southeast director for the Anti-Defamation League, will be the moderators for the forum.

Members of BCON spent a considerable amount of time at the organization’s monthly meeting, Aug. 13, discussing the content and number of questions the group might submit to the moderators for consideration. According to Jim King, BCON president, the areas that the questions likely will focus on will be taxes and finance, public safety, education, transportation, parks and possibly something to do with a social issue.

King said that Trinity Presbyterian Church, which is co-sponsoring the candidate forum, has requested that the audience also be allowed to ask questions.

Another group that hopes to get one or more or their questions asked during the forum is the relatively new organization, The Tree Next Door. During an Aug. 11 meeting at the Buckhead home of Jeri Breiner, the group opted to offer a question or two related to the execution of the city’s tree ordinance for inclusion at the Sept. 22 BCON Mayoral Forum rather than attempt to stage a forum of its own with the candidates.

The group had hoped to hold a forum for mayoral candidates to address tree protection and perhaps other environmental issues as soon as Aug. 23 at the home of Breiner, one of the group’s founding members, and would include a party or reception to introduce people to The Tree Next Door and to raise money for the group and for the whistle-blower legal defense fund to help the city’s former senior arborist, Tom Coffin. Coffin was abruptly fired by the city last year over a disagreement with the head of the Atlanta’s Bureau of Buildings relating to enforcement of the tree ordinance.

The organization, however, was running out of time to hold such an event before the Nov. 3 election, but it may try to hold an event in late November in case there is a runoff in the mayoral race.