The sandwiching of Lisa Borders

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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25 comments Add your comment


August 31st, 2009
4:17 pm

Lisa earns my vote because of the strength she has demonstrated in the past two weeks. Atlanta politics has showed her fangs and taken attempted bites at Lisa’s run for mayor.

First, some one (most likely the Reed campaign) ambushed her Block Party by manufacturing a new flyer promoting “Free Beer” and then distributed it among homeless shelters around Atlanta.

Second, an educated supporter of hers published an article created by two professors at CAU and she is somehow held responsible for the memo that endorses her.

Lastly, one of the biggest endorsements of the race – the Police Union – is trumped by the race issue that she wanted to talk about years ago. If any candidate can bring together Atlanta it is Lisa Borders.

Stay strong Lisa, much of Atlanta is behind you and we need your leadership come January.

John Stevens

August 31st, 2009
4:19 pm

Lisa’s communication staff (Flowers, et al) should be ashamed the way they let this “Black Memo” thing spin out of control. One has to wonder if Lisa can’t run a campaign, then how in the world is she going to run a city.


August 31st, 2009
4:22 pm

There is NO QUESTION in my mind that Turpeau’s bigoted letter was approved pre-distribution by Borders herself.

Her shrewd attempt to eliminate the other Black candidates BACKFIRED!

Therefore, she deserves all of the consequences that are surfacing due to her wicked strategy…


August 31st, 2009
4:35 pm

@ newA look at the facts, the only thing that Lisa had to do with the memo is the fact that she is best black candidate and they realize and communicate that in the memo. It’s not her fault a few racist black people want to get behind her.


August 31st, 2009
4:47 pm

Turpeau is on Lisa Border’s team. She definitely had a hand in this.


August 31st, 2009
5:02 pm

Do you guys really think Borders didn’t know that one of her main surrogates was about to release a memo of this proportion? Let’s get serious. She does play victim well, however. Borders and Turpeau’s plan to force another viable black candidate (Sen. Kasim Reed) out of the race was foiled and now she’s trying to do damage control. She went from the race card to the victim card. Poor Lisa…cry me a river.


August 31st, 2009
5:18 pm

It amazes me how the Border supporters are being so defensive. The bottom line is the campaign made a mistake. She will have to live up to it, and let the chips fall where they fall.

If it were 10 years ago, this may have proven to be a slick strategy… The problem for Borders is, those days are over.

Bill Campbell

August 31st, 2009
6:05 pm

Lisa Borders is a paid Cousins hack! I hope the voters of Atlanta don’t allow Cousin’s property to completely take over the city. Cousin’s son-in-law Giornelli is already the COO at City Hall now. We don’t need a complete takeover with another “cousins” in the mayor’s office.

Support Lisa Borders

August 31st, 2009
6:39 pm

Enter your comments here

I will vote for Lisa!

August 31st, 2009
6:41 pm

I am voting for Lisa Borders. My spouse is voting for Lisa Borders. My neighbors are voting for Lisa Borders. If you want the best qualified, smartest mayor, then I hope that you too will vote for Lisa Borders!

LGBT Citizens will be voting against Kasim

August 31st, 2009
6:43 pm

There are lots of issues out there, but I just cannot believe Kasim won’t support marriage equality. I cannot vote for him.

Politics At Its Finest

August 31st, 2009
6:53 pm

@LGBT Citizens, I am sorry for your struggle. Everyone has their “issue” that influences how they vote. Think of all the people that voted for Bush because of their stance on abortion and gay marriage.

Unfortunately, you are voting against him for an issue that doesn’t matter in ANY mayoral election. Cities do not determine State issues. He was honest with his views. Others pander to LGBT and say what they want to hear and then do the exact opposite. Let’s keep in mind, we are a long ways aways from marriage equality and although there are many LGBT people in Atlanta….the state of Georgia will never allow it to happen. California couldn’t even do it!

Do you think Borders or Norwood will make a difference in the area of marriage equality? Nope!

Just food for thought.

LGBT Voters

August 31st, 2009
9:34 pm

I beg to differ. First of all, please don’t just be sorry for our struggle… JOIN OUR STRUGGLE!

Mayors can and already are making a huge difference with marriage equality. Atlanta’s mayor will be leading the way like mayors of other big cities. Of all the elected officials in our state, this position is one of the highest ranking bully pulpits to lead the way on this issue. LGBT voters combined with friends and allies make up a great majority of voters in Atlanta and we deserve to have our views represented (not given second class status as Kasim does to us).

Also, California will indeed have marriage equality soon and one day Georgia will too (the signs are very clear with younger voters). Norwood and/or Borders will help usher it in faster and fight with us. Sen. Reed has been spending too much time with the good ‘ole boys down at the Gold Dome where they live somewhere in the last century. He needs to join this century, join our movement for equality, and catch up to the voters of Atlanta who are way ahead of him. It’s always the right time to do the right thing!


September 1st, 2009
7:40 am

Race matters. What’s the big deal? There are certain folks who care that their interests are represented in the city of Atlanta. The dominant causasian white sections of the city and local media are up in arms over the memo because of fear and prejudice.
C’mon folks, it’s just a memo to inspire minority candidates. Honestly, you have two very qualified people to run for mayor: Lisa Borders and Mary Norwood. Let the best woman win, I say.


September 1st, 2009
8:18 am

Lisa’s two chief assets (Matt Towery and Aaron Turpeau) have been exposed as the campaign’s “dirty tricks” experts.

But, there is no proof that Ms. Borders knew about or authorized anything unseemly or unethical.

Truth be told

September 1st, 2009
8:52 am

Aaron Turpeau has worked in every mayor’s campaign since Maynard Jackson’s fist term. It’s what he does every four years. If you think for a minute that he is not working for the Borders’ campaign, you are incredibly naive.

This was a knee-capping of Kasim Reed by Borders – plain and simple.

Her ‘denunciation’ of the statement was totally self-serving and as weak as it could be, so as not to offend her operative.


September 1st, 2009
11:03 am

I just cannot support Kasim if this is the way he is going to handle himself.


September 1st, 2009
2:20 pm

Truth be told- you said Borders denunciation was weak and self-serving? What would you have done? She gave the small contribution back, has publicly stated she doesn’t agree and the statement is wrong. The truth of the matter is nothing she could have said or done would have appeased you. As one of Kasim’s cronies you are simply blinded by stupidity.


September 1st, 2009
2:54 pm

Borders’ communications manager is Liz Flowers, a former AJC staff reporter. Shouldn’t Galloway say that? Doesn’t he owe the public that transparency?

Ellis Arnall

September 1st, 2009
3:21 pm

No, I looked her up. She was at the Johns Creek paper. Although it’s an honest mistake. The AJC does look a lot like that paper.


September 1st, 2009
11:28 pm

Let’s be really honest hear. No response need but please do think hard about what I am about to type. The entire Council has sat here for the past 4 years and have done nothing. I know I work with them everyday. I can’t stand to hear the comments about Mary Norwood becoming Mayor. I will quit and move away. You may say good. But you must know she does nothing but chat. Completer chatter, always complaing, talking fast but them forgets what she is talking about. From Jim Maddox to Lisa Borders, these ppl are just collecting their check from the city while enjoying the fruits of being at City Hall with a title. I thought before I came here that elected officials brought new innovative ideas and solutions to the table that none of us can come up with or implement. I am convinced in my 7 years of working here amongst them, listening to the chatter during committee meetings and watching them walk around looking for press to speak to, that none of these folks should be Mayor or even on the Council. None of them. None!!!

I don’t know Reed at all but I do know that I will take time to research him and Spikes before I even punch any vote in for any person running for Mayor who has been here for these past years doing absolutely NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! During the pay change and the furloughs they all had blank faces, waiting on the Mayor to guide them. How will they take her place? How can they do better? Ask them the hard questions Atlanta Media PLEASE!!!!! Do not allow us to fall into a Sarah Palin trap (Borders or Norwood-no matter the color!!!) Ask the questions, give us a fair fighting chance. I am a woman and love the leadership we have here as women but I don’t want to be led by a dumb one that wears aerosol hair spray or velvet in the dark!!! Give us a chance already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


September 1st, 2009
11:31 pm

Lisa and Mary preach financial accountability but the hypocrisy of them both is outrageous: they have been the two highest spenders while in City Council, committing close to a million dollars in frivolous spending which forced the city to eliminate over a 1000 jobs. They contributed to the enormous financial havoc for our city while its been under their watch. Both of them have violated conflict of interests ethical rules, have come under city audit, Lisa’s been under ethical investigation (which while ‘technically’ dropped–the evidence in addition to numerous eyewitnesses confirms that she was lobbying for Cousins while city council president as she had been doing since 2003), and while Lisa claims she’ll run Atlanta like a business, two of the businesses she has run were ran into bankruptcy—yikes.

While Mary is a flaky space cadet, I don’t think she is crooked, but she doesn’t have the leadership strength to take care of crime and anybody who says “oops I accidentally signed a contract making Atlanta owe $700 million to NASCAR because I made a mistake I didn’t read it correctly”—should be kept away from being in charge of anything. Lord have mercy for us all if the spunky space cadet is at the reins next year.

Reed– has had eleven years of experience and done a good job passing successful legislation. He’s a little modest and needs a little more charisma at times but so far he’s the one person I trust to handle dealing with our crime problem and this fiscal mess that Lisa and Mary helped create.

Jess–he seems like a good guy and I will probably vote for him, but I am not sure he stands a chance at winning.

ATL by way of TX

September 1st, 2009
11:41 pm

@ 2cents: please provide evidence that Turpeau is a surrogate? He contributed to the campaign, as did I, but neither of are surrogates.

@ John Stevens: none of the campaign’s control the media, this is the United States of America, not a communist dictatorship with state run media.

@ Clue: get a clue, please.

@ Truth be told: did you bother to read her statement? Nothing weak there! And if YOU think Turpeau IS a part of her staff the YOU need a clue. He donated to the campaign, that’s all!

@ Ellis Arnall: LOL!!!

Anyone but Norwood

September 2nd, 2009
9:51 am

I don’t care what color Norwood is. She would be the worst possible pick for mayor out of the frontrunners.


September 3rd, 2009
5:48 pm

Wow… I thought there were laws against stuff like this…. but as we saw with the black panther voter intimidation prosecution, or lack thereof, it only applys to certain groups of people.