On Tuesday September 5th, One Musicfest hosted an Atlanta Mayoral forum. It was moderated by Michael Render, Dr. Joycelyn Wilson and me. Here is my humble opinion on what transpired. I have also graded each candidate’s performance at this forum. The grades are in no way my thoughts on how the race will turn out.
Aman: If you are a “Never White Mayor” supporter then your concern should be with the candidacy of Peter Aman not Mary Norwood. He is a strong candidate and resonates with Black voters. In particular, he is very good with Millennials. He answered the questions directly and was not afraid to disagree. He even called one of my questions “nonsensical”. Pissed me off, but he is still a formidable candidate and many of you should be concerned. Grade B (lost points for dropping the F bomb)
Bottoms: For someone with a saleable background, she never answered a question. Two and half hours and not one solid answer or idea of substance was put forth. I think her campaign team is telling her to be dodgy, and non-committal. This is going to catch up to her as we get closer to election day. People are not stupid anymore and can see clearly when you are asked what you would do differently than Mayor Reed, you never answer. Mrs. Bottoms is a great candidate with credentials but that is not enough with other great options who may express better ideas and solutions. Grade C
Eaves: If he sticks to his one great idea to close down the City Jail and put those resources towards programs to keep people out of jail, he will win. That is a singular issue that resonates. And win or lose, someone should be asking that question of all the candidates: will you support shutting down the city jail and redirecting the savings to programs. He answered questions and started to push “the Outsider” claim. Grade B+
Fort: This is such a potentially strong candidate. I am not sure why he is tame. I was once told he was like a “washing machine agitator”. Well, if he is to win he needs to be that person and this forum was where he was to be it. This audience was tailor made for the rousing rhetoric of the Sanders revolution but he missed it. Fort needs to be Fort. The one who got arrested at Grady and The Aquarium not the quiet elder statesman. Grade C- (for missing the opportunity)
Hall: I believe Hall won the night. He was clear about what he has DONE or tried to do while in office. I believe he should have told us who has stopped the decriminalization bill he has proposed “three times”. However, he also answered everything with plans and also had solutions to the issues that were raised. Answers, Solutions, and Previous achievements that were tried. Seems that is all we look for in candidates. Grade A
Mitchell: The first thing I noticed about Mitchell was the snarl he wore most of the night. He was obviously angry and as moderator I was not sure he was angry with us or his competition. However, I am sure the audience felt the same-IS he angry with us? This threw off the entire evening for him. Because every one of his answers which were good came off as angry and visibly upset. He must get back in the game. Leave Reed alone and maybe just maybe, find an attack dog to excoriate Reed, Bottoms and his team. But the scowling, nice guy patrician type is not going to work. He also must separate himself from Reed as they are in essence the same person-corporate, moderate, pro law and order. Grade D
Norwood: Lets be honest Norwood’s strength is not in forums. Her strength is “retail politics”. She is great at essentially doing what good elected officials do: knock on doors and make personal pitches and when there is no race, responding to needs. This is why she resonates with older Black voters. They see through the empty suits and nothing rhetoric of many of her competitors. She did not do well at this forum at all. First saying we should have “fun, fun, fun” at a question on race and then stating she was coming from another event and had to adjust. Not the thing voters want to hear. Grade D
Sterling: Mike got the first question and answered it honestly. He said if he saw no path to victory late in the race, he would consider dropping out and endorsing another candidate. He was not sure who it would be. This was telling because it was followed later by him saying he could run four times for mayor and still be elected the youngest mayor. This implies you are only there now to build name recognition. Which is why we need you to drop out so you don’t steal much needed votes from a more viable and serious candidate. Grade C-
Cathy Woolard: My number two winner was this true liberal. In a city that overwhelmingly votes democrat and purports to be a liberal city, she is the only real liberal on stage. Fort counts but he is a progressive , revolutionary and I count them as different. Woolard is true blue and has the history to show for it. What’s interesting is that she should be resonating more with those who reject the Atlanta Way-a pro business, use the black poor for votes but reward the insiders. I find it strange that she is not doing better since purportedly her ideology is more in line with what voters SAY they believe. Grade A
Again, this synopsis does not pick a winner in the race, it only tells what happen on Tuesday at a historical forum. If you are a candidate, the above is free advice. Take it or leave it.
Copyright 2016. Shelley Wynter. All rights reserved