By John Schaffner
For months there have been rumors of as many 14 people planning on running to become Atlanta’s next mayor. But, at the end of the qualifying period Sept. 4, only six candidates are officially in the race.
Four of those candidates have been considered the top contenders all along — City Council President, City Councilwoman Mary Norwood, former State Sen. Kasim Reed and attorney Jesse Spikes.
Also in the race are Peter Brownlowe, a former Atlanta police officer, and Kyle Keyser, the founder of a group called Atlantans Together Against Crime.
One name that will not be on the ballot, but who was considered the candidate for months, is Glenn Thomas, a former budget manager for the city’s Management Services office. Thomas said his main problem was being a new face and not being able to raise money so his campaign never gained much traction.
In related news on the closing day of qualifying, the latest Insider Advantage poll of the mayoral race showed that Norwood had 42 percent of the vote, followed by Borders at 34 percent, Reed at 9 percent and Spikes coming in at 2 percent. The Matt Towers-run poll — conducted for WSB-TV — showed Norwood’s support among whites is 58 percent. It is 35 percent among blacks, which Towers expects may drop.
With Norwood and Borders being the poll frontrunners in the campaign, recent political forums and debates have seen increased attacks by Reed and Spikes on the two women who have been part of the City Council structure — Norwood for eight years and Borders for at least the past two years. There also have been increased attacks between Borders and Norwood.
One issue that charged the political atmosphere for some time, and may continue to be an issue for the remainder of the campaign, was a memo written by African-American academics and distributed by political activist Aaron Turpeau that called for black Atlantans to marshal their votes behind one black candidate (Borders) in order to defeat the only white candidate (Norwood).
The memo stated African-Americans in Atlanta needed to ensure the continuance of control of the mayor’s office which began in 1975 with the election of Maynard Jackson. It stated the only way to do that was to defeat Norwood without a runoff election, which would require African-Americans to vote in a block for one candidate, and said the best candidate to elect would be Borders because of her connection to the white Atlanta business power structure.
All candidates condemned the emailed position paper as racist and Borders denounced her affiliation with Turpeau, a financial and political supporter of her campaign.
There have been indications during the past month that the mayoral campaign may become nasty before the Nov. 3 election.
After the qualifying dust settled, there were 13 candidates who ended up vying in the President of City Council and six City Council races in which Buckhead residents will have an opportunity to vote. Two candidates are seeking the Atlanta Board of Education Dist. 4 seat, which represents Buckhead.
City Council President: Veteran City Council members Ceasar C. Mitchell and Clair Muller will be campaigning against street vendor and political activist Dave Walker, who shows up and speaks at just about every council meeting.
Council Dist. 7: Incumbent Council Member Howard Shook is unopposed.
Council Dist. 8: Political newcomers Yolander Adrean and Richard (Rick) Coleman Jr. are vying for the seat held for eight terms by Council Member Muller.
Council Dist. 9: Incumbent Council Member Felicia Moore is unopposed.
Council At-Large Post 1 (citywide): Perennial candidate Michael Julian Bond, Adam Brackman, Dwanda Farmer and Chris Vaughn are seeking the seat formerly held by Mitchell.
Council At-Large Post 2 (citywide): Political newcomers Amir Farokhi, Weslee Knapp and Aaron Watson are seeking the seat that has been held for two terms by Norwood.
Council At-Large Post 3 (citywide): Incumbent Council Member H. Lamar Willis is being challenged by political newcomer Shelitha Robertson.
In the Atlanta Board of Education Dist. 4 race, Nancy Meister is challenging developer Mark B. Riley.
Note: Brief bios of the candidates will appear in the next edition of the Buckhead Reporter.