Radio stations V-103 and WAOK this morning had the last broadcast word in the Atlanta mayoral runoff, airing separate 30-minute conversations with both Kasim Reed and Mary Norwood.
The locale was a packed room at the historic Paschal’s Restaurant. Both candidates were preceded by a word from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was in town for a pair of protests against home foreclosures.
Jackson is neutral in the mayor’s race, and likened Atlanta’s contest to the Democratic primary bout between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. “It’s a good thing, so long as it’s civil,” he said.
Not much news was committed by either Reed or Norwood. (Fair warning: The Insider was the invited questioner during the portion with Reed.)
However, both candidates expounded on topics that had gone untouched. For Reed, it was whether gambling and casinos had any place in Atlanta. Said the former state senator:
I’m not in favor of it right now. Primarily, my opposition to gaming has been because of my religious beliefs, but I will share this: I think doing a gaming deal right now would be like selling your house right now. It would be a bad deal. The reason is, the offers the game companies would make to Atlanta right now would be low-ball offers that would not be worth the damage that’s done to our city long-term.
About three to four years ago, the gaming opportunities were so mind-blowing that anyone who’s reasonable would have to consider them. They would have to be back to where they were again for me to consider gaming. I think that we’re better this. I think there are other opportunities that are clearly available for Atlanta.
For Norwood, it was the topic of both charter and single-sex schools:
I have been a strong advocate for charter schools. I’ve been a strong advocate for innovation…I do love people being able to think outside the box and have some different rules….Other cities have many more charter schools than Atlanta does right now, and we have buildings that are vacant.
We need to be very thoughtful about what our resources are, and how we can best educate our children….I’m also a big proponent of single-sex schools. I went to a girls college for two years, and I understand the difference in single-sex education.
One of the more telling sights this at Paschal’s this morning could be found outside. Yard signs for both candidates were scattered up and down the restaurant’s property. But Reed’s signs included this: “Paid for by the Democratic Party of Georgia.”
Apparently to meet multi-candidate requirements that apply to spending, the fine print on the signs also encouraged votes for state Sen. Vincent Fort and state Rep. Kathy Ashe, both of Atlanta.
Neither is on the ballot Tuesday. State lawmakers stand for elections in even years, not odd ones.
The yard signs are a reminder that the state Democratic party remains a significant player in this race for mayor – though we probably won’t know how significant until after the votes are counted.
There are other indications that Reed is closing with a partisan argument. The blog Georgia Liberal has posted a Reed flyer that advertises the state senator’s status as a Democrat and also includes an image of Barack Obama.
On the flip side is the headline: “Mary Norwood isn’t a Democrat.”
If you’re in a position to send a pdf of the flyer, we’d be much obliged.
For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.