New Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms promised to unite the city and not neglect Buckhead, at the Buckhead Coalition’s annual meeting on Jan. 31.
“I am committed to making sure that we continue to work together to make sure that our entire city is as strong as it can possibly be,” she said. “It’s so incredibly important that we remember we really are one Atlanta,” she said at the event, which had theme of “Atlanta Together.”
She also said that, while she welcomes Amazon or other big businesses coming to Atlanta, it will not be at the expense of existing companies.
“While we pursue outside opportunities, it’s extremely important that we not forget those who have stuck with us,” she said.
The Buckhead Coalition is an influential, invitation-only group of 100 area CEOs and community leaders led by former Mayor Sam Massell. Its annual luncheon, held at the 103 West event facility on West Paces Ferry Road, is also invitation-only. Several Atlanta City Council members and other elected officials attended the event.
The event’s theme was chosen as uniting Atlanta in response to the divisive mayoral election battle between Buckhead resident and former Councilmember Mary Norwood, who was not invited to the luncheon. That race unofficially began with a forum at last year’s Coalition lunch, Bottoms noted.
The main gift all attendees received this year was a crystal statuette of a handshake to symbolize a united Atlanta, along with the annual “Buckhead Guidebook,” a magazine distributed by the coalition containing statistics and data about the neighborhood. Bottoms received a larger version of the statuette.
Juanita Baranco, the owner of Mercedes-Benz of Buckhead and chair of the coalition, introduced Bottoms and said the coalition will support her endeavor to unite Atlanta.
“We appreciate it, we understand, we support it and we will be here to help implement it,” Baranco said.
The coalition invites the new mayor to speak at its annual luncheon in a tradition dating back to when Andrew Young was elected in 1981.
Bottoms also said she will continue to invest in projects that affect all of the city, “especially projects on the north side,” such as upgrades to the Atlanta Memorial and Chastain parks.
She joked that District 7 Councilmember Howard Shook would be most happy to hear her say the line saying that Buckhead won’t only serve as a way to fund projects in the rest of the city.
“I thought the one line I could give as a speech that would make Howard Shook very happy is if I stood here and said, ‘Buckhead will not be an ATM for the city of Atlanta’ and then took my seat,’” she said.
She promised to be “good stewards” of public money and ensure they responsibly distribute funds from the city’s TSPLOST.
But, she said, the strength of each community does affect the rest of the city, which is why it is important all of the city grows together, she said.
“We know that when Buckhead is strong, we know that the south side is strong. And we know that when the south side is strong, we know that the north side is strong,” Bottoms said.