Before this piece begins let me say emphatically: Atlanta is not a Black city due to its elected leadership. It’s Black because of its people. It is Black because of its entertainment. It’s Hip-hop clubs. Its restaurants and its beautiful sisters (I am a man). These are the things that make it a Black city. So if a white female mayor is elected, it will not stop being Black. No more than if you elect a gay Asian male as city council president it will be a gay or Asian city. No, Atlanta is a Black city culturally and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Now that being said, it must be pointed out that the decline in the Black population in the City of Atlanta occurred when the entire apparatus was Black and might I add Democratic run. No one said anything about the decline of Black Atlanta when the projects and its residents were being sent into the winds. To be replaced by high rise condos, which many Black people moved in. So excuse me if my fear of a white mayor is not scary as many in power want me to believe. For the people wanting me to be scared of a white mayor, are the same people who ran out the working poor and many Black residents.
I believe Mary Norwood should be the choice for Atlantans as their Mayor. Here are several reasons.
Mary “campaigns” whether there is an election or not. As pointed out in a recent Atlanta magazine article, Mary is at the neighborhood events that the people are at: labor day cookouts, NPU meetings, HOA association meetings. This is important because it shows a level of commitment to residents beyond the selfish need of wanting votes at election time. For years, I have heard people say “the politicians only show up when they want our votes”. Well, now you have someone running who has shown up when they were no votes to cast and you don’t want her? I thought this is what we all wanted to see and vote for.
2) Mary fought Mcmansions during the great mortgage bubble. Remember these were the precursors to gentrification. As these huge mini-mansions drove up property values and she was on the front lines fighting that these new homes would displace older mostly Black residents. Most “racists” don’t do these kinds of things. However, Black overseers always do.
3) She is not a Republican. The Democratic Party of Georgia voting tracking system which ranks voters by their votes cast lists her as a Leaning Democrat voter, which makes sense she lives in a district where Republicans and Democrats run for office. My profile has me as a swing voter and I worked hard to get there. According to an in-depth investigation by Atlanta Progressive News in 2009, Norwood has voted in Democratic primary elections with regularity since 1998—she voted in the Democratic presidential primary in 2008 and 2004 and has publicly stated that in those years, her vote went to Barack Obama and John Kerry respectively. So to call her a Republican based on the Democratic Party of Georgia’s own algorithm is, well let’s say, a blatant lie. One of the most glaring laughing out loud criticisms is that she supported Karen Handel over Jon Ossoff. I know, right, who? And where is he now? Handel had been in government for decades and Mary Norwood was probably being more loyal to a friend then loyal to a party. A party by the way, that skipped over talented Black candidates for a former staffer who had never run for office before. So I ask the woke people: what is worse, voting for the Republican who is a friend or an entire party apparatus skipping over qualified Black candidates for a young, white dude? Give me the loyal friend as Mayor every time. However, it must be pointed out that in a State-run almost entirely by Republicans, how is it a bad thing to have someone in the Mayor’s seat of the economic center of Georgia who can work with them. Mayor Reed worked with Deal to get the Savannah port done however, Reed was needed due to the President in the White House was Obama and a Reed friend. Now any federal deals that must get done going forward for at least 3 more years, will need the backing of Trump. So it is with good reason a potential candidate for Mayor of Atlanta would not diss or denounce him just to gain a few handclaps from a rap station audience which targets 13-21-year-olds before going into office. We may need his help one day, soon, like to weigh in on the water wars, for example.
4) “We’ve had a sewer mayor, a real estate mayor. I want to be the community mayor”. Norwood said this not long ago. I think if you are really about Black Atlanta and you really care about the least of these, then you should really want the mayor to be a community mayor. You are running around backing the candidacy of the “real estate” mayor’s choice and it’s the real estate that is actually killing our neighborhoods. Gentrification is not community Mayoring. Real Estate mayors drive gentrification. Yet many of you against all logic and what you ostensibly stand for and yell the most about will vote for the person who will continue to drive out working poor residents. As Bottoms said in a candidate forum I moderated, she will do nothing different than Mayor Reed. Except “smile when she cuts you”. Which by the way, is a really racist comment to make, and goes a long way to extend bigoted ideas of Black women.
5) The one issue of which should be the most concerning to African Americans in the city that the Mayor can directly affect is Criminal Justice reform. So let’s look at Norwood’s record on this issue.
She worked with representatives of both the judicial system and our police to help establish two new initiatives: 1) Community Restorative Boards at Juvenile Court—boards comprised of community leaders to assist in deciding appropriate restitution for youthful offenders, and 2) “Court Watch” at Superior Court, whereby communities are notified when repeat offenders in their neighborhoods are brought before the court.
Item 2 is significant as it allows residents to know who the repeat offenders are and allow community involvement in fixing the person. It allows for Churches, Community groups etc to get involved early in a person’s life to correct the behavior. So in a nutshell, the lady who does not care about Black people, was out in front of Juvenile Justice reform by tying the community to help those in need. Ask those telling you not to vote for her, when was the last time they mentored a repeat offender?
Finally, I am one who respects our seniors. I feel they are most in tune with who should be trusted and who should not be trusted. I also feel as a fundamental character test of any candidate is how they, as an elected official, treats seniors. Norwood proposes freezing property tax hikes on Seniors. Not sure if Bottoms has proposed this but I know Reed has not so, therefore, Bottoms will not. But more importantly, talk to the seniors in Bottoms old district. Ask them what they think of her as their City Council member. Also, of note is that Bottoms did very well in her 11th district precincts but Norwood did on average 10%. But even more of note, turnout in Bottoms district was under 25%. So it begs the logical question: If Bottoms is such a great champion for people, why did nearly 75% of them stay home when they had a chance to vote her into office? I would listen to them and ask them why didn’t you vote for your own city council representative? For if those you represent don’t show up to vote for you, then clearly there is something lacking. I would put forth the notion that the lacking is working for the citizens especially our seniors.
People and pundits always make the mistake to blame the voters for low turnout. I put forth the premise that poor politicians who do not work hard for their constituents are to blame for low turnout. A total of 4970 people voted for Bottoms in District 11. There are over 35,000 voters in that district. To me, that speaks volumes. And its why, after all the rhetoric and the race baiting and the name calling, it really comes down to what does her district/constituents think about her. The turnout says not much.
Copyright 2016. Shelley Wynter. All rights reserved