The conversation surrounding Atlanta’s mayoral runoff between Mary Norwood and Kasim Reed has already begun. In fact, it’s keeping some very late hours.
A string of e-mails has filtered through the city’s political class over the last three days, ending with a 4:14 a.m. Saturday note from Bunny Jackson-Ransom, ex-wife of the late mayor Maynard Jackson, promising to seek out “one black [Mary] Norwood supporter each day.”
During the next few weeks, I intend to do whatever I can to wake up those African Americans who have become “bamboozled” into believing that a moderately educated, southern white women will do something for them. Obviously they have forgotten what Atlanta was like for our people before we had a Black Mayor. Yes, mistakes have been made; but we are surely not where we used to be.
But let’s walk it back a bit. This is a serious conversation that began with an extensive note from state Rep. Ralph Long, a real estate broker and first-term African-American member of the Legislature — originally published on his Facebook page.
On Thursday, Long marveled at his isolation as a Norwood supporter in a city that is “near the point of anarchy.” Wrote Long:
My father often told me that leadership was lonely, but wow. It is absolutely ridiculous that I am the only elected official who has endorsed the leading Mayoral candidate, Mary Norwood. Forty-six percent of Atlanta could not possibly be wrong.
Why won’t other politicians follow the lead of their constituents? Am I supposed to believe that only my eyes see the trash, lack of development, vacant homes and absolute lawlessness plaguing my side of town? We are near the point of anarchy. I remember in 2001 when we had a surge in home values. Dumpsters were everywhere as people all over remodeled their homes. There was a buzz that good economic development was finally coming to the pockets of Atlanta that had been forgotten. At the time, our desire for a local Starbucks, Publix and other retail did not seem so far-fetched. Those are laughable ideas now.
Yet I’m “crazy” – crazy because I want effective code enforcement. I’m “sold out” because I want a better city for my son. I’ve “run away from my Blackness” because I want better for my neighborhood and all of Atlanta. I’m willing to sacrifice a little prestige and popularity by standing alone for the sake of leadership – alone for the sake of what’s right. Why can’t you see what invades our homes every night on the news with murder after murder, theft after theft, rape after rape, crime after crime?
I’m the only elected official who has endorsed a candidate who exemplifies hope through her accessibility, work ethic and vision. Mary Norwood brings hope for a better day through her plans for rigorous code enforcement in all neighborhoods. Mary Norwood brings hope for a slice of the American dream that has not been slighted by blight, despair and crime. Mary Norwood’s vision brings hope for our kids who have no direction and run the streets with their pants sagging down. I just can’t believe that my eyes are the only ones that can see the economic depression on the corner of a once proud Beecher and Cascade. Am I the only person who hears about the near daily thefts and burglaries that occur on Westmont, Greymont, Martin Luther King or Mayson Turner and other streets?
Just around the corner from my home, a man was shot thirty-one times in broad daylight. His body was severely disfigured and on display for nearby playing children. Another young man was shot execution style on the corner of Langston and Deckner. He is now just a ghost, a vapor, seldom thought of in the abyss of Atlanta’s memory. Only one of these instances received any media attention, and that was because of the horrifying fact of how many times the victim was shot. The second instance only generated ink in the police report. To add insult to murder, voter turnout at the precinct in this neighborhood, Perkerson Elementary, a minute away from the crime scenes, was abysmal. There are far too many of these stories in Atlanta.
It is ok to say that the current regime has failed us. It is ok to say that good ideas can come from someone who does not look like me. It is ok to want a better life, to want more, and to desire to be safe and even know for the sake of decency that you deserve it!!!! I am not ashamed of the choices that I’ve made nor do I harbor any bad feeling for those who don’t agree with me, but I will not stand for people acting like they are blind. The forty-six percent of Atlantans with the wisdom to vote for change deserve the respect and admiration of their elected leaders. Now is not the time to favor political convenience over destiny.
On Friday morning, Shelley Wynter, a former talk jock for WAOK, wrote this response:
My father told me that lonely leadership is probably when you are on the wrong side of an issue. If you are the only elected official endorsing Mrs. Norwood then it is because your colleagues see that the candidate has major defects: inconsistency, inaccuracy, and not very intelligent. The growth that has gone in Atlanta has occurred exclusively north of I-20 and this is primarily due to the City Council on which Mrs. Norwood sat .
However, the City of Atlanta’s problems are issues of Finances. But she has admitted her lack of understanding of financial affairs. She has described the budget as being two books and being cooked. Well, she was a paid steward of these books, so is she criminally liable for this behavior?
Or did the cooked books benefit her since she has a contract with the City of Atlanta? And is voting for someone who has a contract with a broke city, while lambasting the stewards of the budget (of which she was one) really showing leadership or is it really more self serving?
Our crime problem was caused, in part, by Mrs Norwood. She voted against a one-half mil increase (as a pure conservative, I am against all taxes, however I would pay more for protection). Cops were furloughed, your neighbor was killed and now I am paying [a three-mil increase] — RIGHT BEFORE XMAS. But that vote was entirely okay because her community had private security.
Yes, the current regime failed us and Mrs. Norwood was/is part of that regime. Mr Reed can be tied to this regime, also. However, his ties are not in the area of legislation or lack there of. Also, the most damning reason that your candidate is not being endorsed by other elected officials is that her own city council members do not respect her intellect or candidacy — they have never selected her to head a committee. Nor have any of them to date, endorsed her.
And that prompted the following early-morning note from Bunnie Jackson-Ransom, whose daughter, Brooke Jackson-Edmond, has also endorsed Reed in the mayor’s race:
Shelly, I agree with you….
I was under the assumption that I could retire from active duty of campaigns – leaving it to the next generation. I guess I was wrong. During the next few weeks, I intend to do whatever I can to wake up those African Americans who have become “bamboozled” into believing that a moderately educated, southern white women will do something for them. Obviously they have forgotten what Atlanta was like for our people before we had a Black Mayor. Yes, mistakes have been made; but we are surely not where we used to be.
My personal goal is to seek out one Black Norwood supporter each day to remind and inform them. Thanks Shelly for providing some basic information that should hit home, educate and inform my sleeping neighbors. I invite some of you to join me. We need more than the “hope and vision” coming from Mary Norwood; we need vision – with direction and hope with ethics; we need action and follow-through shown through the record of Kasim Reed.
No doubt this won’t be the last on-line debate.
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