Buckhead is getting a spotlight in the Dec. 5 runoff election for the Mayor’s Office, with local resident Mary Norwood facing Keisha Lance Bottoms on the ballot. From Chastain Park to Lindbergh Center, many residents have diverse opinions about who they’ll support, while some say the campaign has turned them off from voting at all.
The Reporter talked to 20 residents in the Chastain Park neighborhood, near Lenox Square and in the Lindbergh Center area. Many had not decided who they would vote for in the runoff, especially in the Lindbergh area, where several said they weren’t following the election, and a couple didn’t know an election was happening. Residents in the Chastain Park and Lenox Square area more often knew who they were voting for and expressed more support for Norwood.
In the Nov. 7 general election, Norwood received the vast majority of Buckhead votes, while Bottoms received the majority of southwest Atlanta votes. All but three Buckhead precincts were won by Norwood. Bottoms won those three precincts, which were in the Lindbergh area. In recent conversations, residents there were less likely to know who they were supporting than in the Chastain and Lenox areas.
DeJah Ault, a Lindbergh resident, said she isn’t worried about Buckhead’s future, and is looking for a candidate she believes will protect residents of the gentrifying West End neighborhood.
“In Buckhead, everyone is cool. I’m not worried Buckhead is going to get in trouble,” said Ault, who supported Vincent Fort in the general election. “There are going to be people that are affected and someone needs to look out for them.”
But she says neither candidate fits the bill. Bottoms is too close to current Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration, and Norwood has not run a substantive enough campaign, she said. She doesn’t want there to be a “political influence” from Reed’s administration, and if Bottoms is elected, Ault thinks that is likely to happen.
Ault said she doesn’t know much about Norwood, saying her campaign has not offered enough substance to learn about her positions and her vision for Atlanta. Like a couple of others in the Lindbergh area, Ault didn’t know Norwood is a Buckhead resident.
Ault said she is worried people will vote for a candidate just because they are a woman or are African American, and said they shouldn’t just vote for them automatically for those reasons.
Sarah Culverson, a Chastain Park resident, said she voted for Norwood in the general election and will vote for her again in the runoff. She said she felt she was the most ethical candidate in the election and would help the city remain financially stable.
“I feel like I can trust her to take care of Atlanta,” she said.
Culverson said was excited to vote for Norwood in the election and is excited to vote in the runoff.
“She is what we need to keep Atlanta strong and grow it because she knows the city and she’s been here a long time,” she said.
Culverson said she feels Buckhead needs more attention than the current administration has given.
Carlos Perez, who lives near the Buckhead border with Brookhaven, is among those saying he is not planning to vote in this election. He said the political climate during last year’s presidential election and this year’s mayoral election has been toxic. He said he hasn’t been following the election because politics have become exhausting.
Rob White, a Pine Hills resident, said he voted for Peter Aman — another Buckhead resident — in the general election, and will probably vote for Norwood in the runoff election because he feels Norwood would best represent Buckhead.
“I thought Aman had a clearer vision for what he wanted to do, but Norwood was my second choice,” he said.
One resident who lives near Chastain Park said she does not think she will vote in the election, citing a disdain for politics and a concern that the campaigns have been presented in racial terms, not between candidates and their positions.
“Most of what I’ve heard is just about black versus white,” said the resident, who didn’t want her name published.
A resident who lives near the Lindbergh MARTA station said he has not decided who he will vote for in the runoff. The resident, who did not want his name published, said he didn’t vote in the general election because he knew it would come down to Bottoms and Norwood, but he still hasn’t been able to decide which he thinks would make the best mayor.
Although he lives in Buckhead, he said Norwood’s longtime ties to the community don’t factor into his decision.
“For me, it’s all about moving all of Atlanta forward, not just where I live,” said the resident.
Norwood has picked up a major Buckhead endorsement. Sam Massell, a former Atlanta mayor who leads the Buckhead Coalition, has announced the organization has endorsed Norwood for mayor.
Massell said his group made a decision mostly based on her reputation in the city. He said he was confident that despite her ties to Buckhead, she would serve all the city equally. Her race will also not have an effect on her serving all Atlanta residents, he said.
“It boils to mostly her knowledge of the city and the city’s knowledge of her,” Massell said. “She has proven herself as a being sensitive to the needs of the community in all decisions.”