ATL mayoral candidates and the Beltline

The Beltline — a 22-mile loop around Atlanta that would combine mixed-use development, parks, trails and transit — has been one of Mayor Shirley Franklin’s big ideas.

But the real estate crash has placed its financing in question.

On Tuesday, four Atlanta mayoral candidates gathered at All Saints Episcopal Church to describe how they intend to keep the project on track.

My AJC colleague Eric Stirgus was there. As was former City Council president and commuter Cathy Woolard, who served as moderator.

“Still driving,” Woolard said to some responses, drawing laughter from the standing room crowd of about 250 people.

The candidates, by and large, said it will take time and money to get some of the work done.

Council President Lisa Borders: Spoke about allowing people or organizations to pay for sponsorships of city parks to generate revenue. Borders also reiterated her idea of a “revolving fund” where homeowners can borrow money from the city — possibly with low-interest — to pay for some sidewalk improvements.

Councilwoman Mary Norwood: Said she’ll consider another bond referendum to fund sidewalk improvements. Norwood also spoke of a system of jitneys and trams to help residents get to transit on the Beltline if they don’t live close to it.

Former state senator Kasim Reed: Said he’d consider issuing bonds to pay for sidewalk improvements and push for allowing residents to vote whether they want to create a 1 percent sales tax to fund transportation projects.

Attorney Jesse Spikes: Said he’d root out what he believes is wasteful spending in city departments, such as fleet services and watershed management and use the savings for projects such as the Beltline.

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27 comments Add your comment

American Dream

September 30th, 2009
11:42 am

What requirements are needed to refer to oneself as a political insider? Last week I watched an episode of the West Wing. Does that make me an insider? That single act gives me more qualifications that Mr. Galloway possesses.

Mary N

September 30th, 2009
11:49 am

The candidates varied very little in this debate. The question is who has the wherewithal to get it done. It appeared the Reed’s political capital in the Golden Dome would make him the most effective regarding the Beltline.


September 30th, 2009
11:52 am

My man Ox has the answer. Pave over part of Atlanta, get people off the connector.


September 30th, 2009
11:53 am

Very important issue. Although I like Norwood’s approach, Kasim Reed is the only candidate who’s already supported and carried Beltline legislation. The others can only make promises.

Colonel Nate

September 30th, 2009
11:56 am

From what I hear, Mary Norwood performed quite well last night. Borders left some wondering if she’s always so abrasive and catty.


September 30th, 2009
12:50 pm

Me thinks that the Beltline is a great idea but, this is the wrong time to be adding costs, taxes, etc. to the residents of Atlanta. My opinion, for what it’s worth……none of the candidates know what they’re talking about and are just spewing political rhetoric….and BTW, I don’t think the Beltline was Shirley’s idea…..please correct me if i’m wrong.


September 30th, 2009
12:57 pm

Wonder why Kasim Reed placed his media buy on hold? Hmmmmm……can’t be a good sign.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

September 30th, 2009
2:03 pm

Looks like psychological projection from a catty someone who wants another “Bush” in public office:

Colonel Nate
September 30th, 2009
11:56 am

“From what I hear, Mary [Bush] Norwood performed quite well last night. Borders left some wondering if she’s always so abrasive and catty.”

Atlanta Voter

September 30th, 2009
2:08 pm

dgroy… The Beltline was not Shirley’s idea. It was thought up by a Ga Tech grad student and former City Council President Cathy Woolard promoted it.

I’m voting for Lisa Borders. I’ve seen Senator Reed down at the state capitol and have been unimpressed. He is very quiet in the committee meetings and does not speak up when he should. As one of several state senators you can get by on auto pilot without doing much of anything. Our next Mayor will have to be engaged and well informed as to how this city can work better. Lisa is much better qualified to work with a broad diversity of leaders to get the job done.


September 30th, 2009
2:17 pm

Reed’s concept of issuing bonds and raising taxes sounds to be the most realistic…

Forum observer

September 30th, 2009
2:32 pm

Cathy Woolard schooled Mary Norwood last night, and someone should inform Senator Reed that the office of mayor is not a legislative position so he can’t “co-author” his way out of the current financial conundrum. We need real solution, real business/managerial acumen, and a real understanding of how Atlanta works.


September 30th, 2009
2:36 pm

Lisa Borders and Cathy Woolard can and will ensure that the Beltline is the economic engine it can be for this city! Go Borders!

Shin Jasher

September 30th, 2009
4:14 pm

Joeventures has the real shakedown on how the forum went. Why y’all trust the AJC to deliver a balanced report is beyond my meager comprehension. Behold!

Crunk D

September 30th, 2009
4:45 pm

I like Mary Norwood’s idea of jitneys. We could do them like rickshaws, with homeless people providing the motive power – that will get some useful work done and cut down on all the panhandling.


September 30th, 2009
6:30 pm

Last night, Lisa Borders said that real estate is to Atlanta what cars are to Detroit. Considering that she has spent 30 years working for one of ATL’s biggest developers, I doubt she sees that analogy as unfortunate. As an Intown ATL resident for nearly 30 years – and exhausted from fighting bad development — I think that attitude is precisely why she shouldn’t be in the mayor’s chair. Kasim and Mary care about the neighborhoods. Clearly, Lisa is on the developers’ side.


September 30th, 2009
6:36 pm

Shin, who is JoeVentures and why should we trust him/her? There’s no bio, background, etc. on the blog that tells us what he/she brings to the table as far as experience, insider connections, or journalistic qualifications. Why should I trust the word of an anonymous blogger over Galloway, who I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember?

Casper Jackson

September 30th, 2009
10:47 pm

I’m tired of Borders saying the business community & homeowners should pay for all inefficiencies of city gov. Homeowners borrow money from the City to fix the sidewalks?? What??!!!! Fix the city gov Lisa!!! Make some ‘tough decisions’ and kick the lazy workers out of all the depts! Lisa’s been vice mayor for 4 years. She’s a part of the problem. While Lisa says the city is ‘broke & broken’, how many heads will she fire and replace if she wins? Probably few. Norwood I think will shake things up & bring in some fresh blood in the depts. Reed’s virtually out of the competition.


September 30th, 2009
10:53 pm

The only solutions the current Atlanta mayor has and the current candidates for mayor have for ANYTHING is to raise taxes. Other municipal and county governments have managed to avoid that but not Atlanta…by the end of the next mayor’s two terms property taxes will be up 10% and hell why not throw in a new SPLOST or something. Whether it’s crime, infrastructure, traffic, whatever….the answer is ALWAYS let’s raise taxes…How about being more efficient with the resources you already have like everyone else in America is doing right now Shirl, Mary, Kasim?


September 30th, 2009
11:16 pm

Reed had the chance to pass a T SPLOST in the Senate and blew it. Now that he’s out of power he’s going to push for it and make it happen?? Who can believe that?

Talk is easy, Mr. Reed. It’s time for solutions.

Jitneys and Rickshaws? Is Norwood serious? What will that do to help with traffic congestion?

Borders offers solutions. She will get things done.

Big Mungo APD

October 1st, 2009
10:34 am

Scrap the beltline and pay for the things the city needs.


October 1st, 2009
4:10 pm

The beltline will be a mugging field and a developers handout.Dump the beltline it can’t be payed for.

Atlanta Voter

October 2nd, 2009
9:51 am

The beltline has the potential to bring in more revenue to pay for things the city needs. Those last to posts represent the same sad mentality that NYC was fighting when they proposed making Central Park. Now NYC gets tons of revenue from taxpayers living right on the park. The beltline could very well be one of the greatest things to happen in a major American City. Have some vision!


October 2nd, 2009
2:53 pm

As a supporter of the beltline from it’s conception, I have been “on board” the idea. However after years of talk, I am starting to realize that the current powers that be -ALL of them-, are not the visionaries that they would like to think that they are. In the time it has taken the Beltline to become a full conversation, New York has completed it idea of “The Highline”, and has built it first quarter of it system. Minneappolis has built a complete system that is mirror image of our proposed Beltline. And to top the cake Dubai, a twelve year old “new” city has built a full heavy rail system that is larger than Marta! Way to go city-state!
I am now just a whatever person when it comes to the souths ability to dream big, think big, and implement big. It is very disappointing!


October 2nd, 2009
2:55 pm


October 3rd, 2009
8:44 am

stupidtown and your stupid beltline…..learn how to plan you idiots..a transit line that crosses peachtree once??? please…..people want to go to midtown not around it………you people even know how to look on map?


November 3rd, 2009
11:43 am

geno, pay attention. the peachtree streetcar will connect all of that. the BL is not a panacea for all transportation ills in the ATL.

[...] Candidates According to the AJC Political Insider, here are what the two runoff candidates have to say about the Beltline: Councilwoman Mary Norwood: [...]