Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed returned to his political home in the Georgia House on Thursday, promising to work with state officials to tackle problems from the fight over water to traffic congestion and education.
Reed, a Democrat, urged Republicans and members of his own party to take on the challenges facing the state with a new bi-partisan spirit.
“It’s time for us to have a cease fire,” said Reed, who was greeted warmly in the GOP-controlled House, where he served from 1998 to 2005. “We can deal with the stuff between us later. The challenges are so big we need to work together.”
Problems, like water and traffic congestion, are threatening Georgia’s dominance in the South, said Reed.
“This is really our moment,” he said.
Reed said he was looking to his former House colleagues to lead the way.
“You all are the captains,” he told House members. “But I want you to know I’m a rookie ready to do whatever it takes. Let’s get through these tough times together.”
Reed made an appearance in the Senate, where he also served, on Wednesday.
In the House, there was some reminiscing.
Longtime Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) recalled that Reed’s mother had come to him in Reed’s first year in the House and asked him to watch out for her son.
“We’ve done a good job of taking care of and looking out for Mrs. Reed’s son.”
He said Reed is one who subscribes to the edict that attitude is everything.
“Kasim Reed has a great attitude toward public service and serving the public,” Smyre said. “He is a man I think is going to take the city and this state far.”
Reed joked that his staff had grown tired of his many visits to the state Capitol.
“But I am the mayor,” Reed said. “They will have to get over it.”
Sure enough, at around 2:30 p.m., Reed was back at the Capitol. This time addressing the Senate, where he had served before being elected mayor.
“I came over today to tell you how much I miss you. I really do,” Reed said. “I love this chambers and the members in it.”
Reed noted that it took him 243 steps to walk from City Hall to the Capitol.
“In the past the distance between the Capitol and City Hall seemed like miles,” Reed said. “Our relationship will make it closer. I don’t mind coming over here.”
George Hooks (D-Americus), the dean of the Senate, said that since he has been in office since 1980, the relationship between City Hall and state government has never been great.
“Now, by having a highly-respected and former senator over there – who was a good friend and popular - is a great plus, not only for Atlanta but Georgia as well,” Hooks said. “We have a person we know as a friend. It will make our state a better place to be.”
Ernie Suggs contributed to this post.