In politics, a clarification is an attempt to repair the damage caused by a candidate’s previous statement – before the latter takes hold.
So eyebrows jumped when the Atlanta mayoral campaign of Lisa Borders put out a morning press release today: “Borders Clarifies Statement on Taxes.”
On Tuesday night, the four major candidates for mayor of Atlanta engaged in a debate at Trinity Presbyterian Church at Buckhead. Here’s the YouTube clip of the part that matters:
In the clip, the questioner — Dick Williams, of “Georgia Gang” fame — notes that the Atlanta City Council passed a property tax increase as an emergency measure aimed at ending police and fire furloughs. Williams asks the candidates: Would you like to end your first term as mayor by rolling back that tax increase?
Each candidate rose and responded in turn:
“Yes,” said Councilwoman Mary Norwood.
“Yes, I would pledge to roll back, but after we [fill] reserves,” said Borders.
“I would not commit to a roll back until we had hired enough police officers to secure this city,” former state senator Kasim Reed said.
No, said Jesse Spikes. “Atlanta will be lucky to maintain the service level it has today,” he said.
Norwood’s position was consistent. In June, she voted against the three-mill property tax to begin with. Borders supported the tax hike this summer – but at the church appeared to disown the increase. Or at least its purpose.
This from the release from the Borders campaign, quoting the candidate:
“To clarify,” Borders said this morning, “any property tax rollback could only occur after public safety is fully funded and when our finances at the city are stabilized. This has been my stance since the campaign began and will remain my guiding principle.”
When asked about her response at the debate, Borders explained that she understood the question to ask whether she would rollback taxes after public safety was adequately funded. The question came during a series of inquiries in which the moderators had condensed a number of individual prepared questions.
Borders also said she would only consider a tax rollback if additional funds were placed in city reserves.
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