Mary Norwood and Jesse Spikes qualified this morning as candidates in the Atlanta race for mayor. Kasim Reed has reserved Wednesday to do the same.
Lisa Borders has chosen tomorrow for her formal entry into the contest.
The ceremony will come on the heels of a frustrating weekend for the Atlanta city council president, who has found herself sandwiched by the circumstances that surround a now-discredited movement to rally African-American voters behind a single black candidate.
Liz Flowers, spokeswoman for the Borders campaign, called this afternoon — not to complain, but to vent about the unfairness of it all.
You can see her point. On Friday, the Borders campaign released the news that the candidate had been endorsed by International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 623 — an important development in an election where crime is a major concern.
But that message was overwhelmed, first by the Black Leadership Forum memo distributed by Aaron Turpeau, then by Mayor Shirley Franklin’s condemnation of the note as “bigoted.”
The memo has threatened to shift the race from a post-Obama climate to something more familiar — perhaps the days of Bill Campbell.
Borders was the alleged beneficiary of the “black mayor first” memo — the document suggested that because of her No. 2 standing in the polls, African-American voters should rally behind her at the expense of Reed, Spikes and other black candidates.
That, and the fact that Turpeau is a supporter, has led some to speculate that Borders or her campaign had a hand in the memo. There is no evidence to think this is so.
All mayoral candidates were interviewed by the Black Leadership Forum, Flowers noted. The interviews were, in fact, conducted at Cascade United Methodist Church — where Reed holds membership.
“All of us were under the impression there would be a potential endorsement,” she noted in an e-mail that followed our conversation. “Instead, the Turpeau memo popped out before anyone with BLF had an opportunity to vote — and so here we are.”
The memo surfaced on Thursday, and Borders responded, immediately and in person. Like Reed, she denounced it as thoroughly wrong-headed. Her statement to reporters was an attempt to address the problem, dispose of it, then shift the discussion the practicalities of governance.
In that sense, Borders’ reaction wasn’t entirely successful. But her remarks were thoughtful, and may have been lost in last week’s hoopla. They’re worth reading in full:
”The river of race runs through Atlanta. Given our political and social history here, we cannot completely ignore the question of race. It courses through the history of this city and touches almost every life.
“When I first announced my candidacy in December 2007, I sat before a diverse audience of Atlantans and publicly acknowledged that elephant in the room.
“Atlanta is transitioning, but it has not fully transitioned. We will continue to have conversations about race and class, especially as the home to the new Center on Civil and Human Rights. But my run for mayor is not about race. It is not about rhetoric. It is about results.
“Atlanta is a broken city that needs the right mayor. One who can not only talk about her problems, but one who can offer concrete solutions and ways to pay for what all Atlantans need: a clean, safe, affordable city that works for all of us.
“We have had two Atlantas for far too long. Through my lifetime of experiences, I have lived, worked and played in both.
“As a child on Hunter Street, as a student integrating Westminster, as a healthcare leader and as a business executive, I have not had the luxury of choosing where I fit. I have been and must always be of Atlanta. I am the only candidate who has navigated these difficult conversations every day, and I am the right candidate to bridge these divides.
“The Atlanta we have today requires strong, focused and experienced leadership. We must have a leader with the political courage to make tough stands, regardless of political consequences.
“When our public safety officials were losing $250 a month and our families were unprotected, I am the only candidate who scrubbed the budgets, attended the hearings and stood up for our police officers and firefighters. I didn’t hide behind the excuse of not being the mayor yet – I understand that we must do what’s right – right now.
“Similarly, I must make clear that I do not reject discussions concerning race because they may be too difficult or anger one community or another. I have never had the luxury of being Black or White. I have always been part of the entire city — and I know the entire city. I am a daughter of her legacy, and I proudly stand as proof of what Atlanta can produce: an experienced business executive who has balanced budgets, raised money and fought to protect her citizens.
“We will continue to have these conversations, and I am committed to having them openly and honestly. However, I will not let these discussions divert us from what is most important. The color of skin of our next mayor is not the issue. Instead, we must be concerned about financial stability and public safety. About homelessness and the loss of jobs. About accountability, integrity and answers. Those issues don’t care about the race of the mayor or the race of any citizen.
“I recognize the constitutional right of every citizen to express their opinions. Mayor Ivan Allen and Mayor Maynard Jackson upheld that core belief during some of the darkest moments in our history. I reject the analysis offered by Aaron Turpeau. He is absolutely wrong. I oppose anyone, of any race, who would distract us from what is important today.
“Atlanta has a chance to do today what we have done so rightly before: not get drawn into an argument that has no winners. I repudiate anyone who would use this campaign to score points or divert our attention from the dangers facing our city: unsafe neighborhoods, crumbling infrastructure and a two-legged financial stool that cannot continue to stand.
“I welcome the opportunity to move Atlanta beyond this damaging and misleading question of whether Atlanta needs a “black” mayor or a “white” mayor. I am the right mayor for a city that has the experience to start on Day 1. I have the relationships to reach across the city. I have the capacity to understand where we are and identify solutions.
“We must be one Atlanta, a place where we get our money’s worth, protect every neighborhood, make Atlanta work for all her citizens and where we care for our community. I believe Atlanta’s best days lie ahead. We must judge every candidate not on their race, but on the solutions they bring to the table. I am that candidate and will be that mayor.”
Expect Borders to address the topic of race when she qualifies at City Hall on Tuesday. But she will be accompanied many rank-and-file police officers, and may have a few words to say about transportation.
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