Atlanta opts for change, but not revolution

In the end, Atlanta declared for change. But the city turned its back on revolution.

Reaching beyond City Hall, voters on Tuesday picked 40-year-old former state senator Kasim Reed as the 59th mayor of Atlanta.

The caveats of a razor-thin margin apply. A recount of the runoff is in the offing.

Mary Norwood, the diminutive councilwoman who threatened to engineer the greatest shake-up City Hall had seen in three decades, refused to concede defeat.

But as midnight approached, boosted by a surprisingly strong turnout in a post-Thanksgiving runoff, Reed declared himself the fourth consecutive African-American to hold the city’s top office.

Race was never a point directly addressed by the candidate, except to deny its importance – but the fact was of great concern to more than a few black voters, not to mention many members of the media who had their eyes on Atlanta’s changing population.

The 11-year lawmaker and attorney was backed by a phalanx of civic leaders, civil rights heroes, the state Democratic party — and Mayor Shirley Franklin. Norwood declared Reed the candidate of Atlanta’s political establishment.

But consider this: Reed will join Andrew Young as the only mayor in at least half a century to serve without any previous experience in city government. That in itself argues change.

Reed walked a delicate line, claiming the support of an incumbent and still personally popular mayor – but promising to “clean up the mess at City Hall.” That he served as Franklin’s campaign manager – twice – made the task that more difficult.

“The policies and challenges at City Hall are not just a result of the mayor’s leadership,” Reed campaign manager Tharon Johnson explained. The former state senator promised to remake the Atlanta police force and solve a $100 million-plus pension crisis, all without sullying the name of his predecessor.

Despite a substantial record as a state lawmaker, Reed began the contest for mayor as a virtual unknown, surging to take second-place in the Nov. 3 general election, ahead of Council President Lisa Borders.

The numeric hows and whys of Reed’s victory on Tuesday will have to wait for detailed statistics from a computer-challenged Fulton County election office.

But the nine city precincts DeKalb County – largely dominated by white voters — provided evidence of Reed’s progress in forging the biracial coalition now essential to victory in citywide races.

On Nov. 3, Norwood carried topped Reed in those precincts by 638 votes. On Tuesday, she led by only 133 votes.

Among the keys to victory cited by Reed supporters was their candidate’s ability to raise money – besting Norwood by nearly 2-to-1 in the weeks following the general election. Together, both candidates raised more than $1.3 million for the second round.

Also essential was the entry of the state Democratic party into the contest.

“We were very honored and pleased with the party’s decision to involve itself,” Johnson said. “The first job of the Democratic party is to elect Democrats.” Norwood strategists conceded the damage done by Reed’s ability to turn an officially non-partisan contest into a test of who was the strongest Democrat.

But the greater revolution on Tuesday may have had nothing to do with party or race.

Four of the five Atlanta municipal races pitted significantly younger candidates against older ones. Reed is five years older than Maynard Jackson when he won his first election in 1973. Norwood is 57.

Ceasar Mitchell, winner of the race for council president, is 41. His defeated rival, fellow council member Clair Muller, is 64.

“In the midst of all the hoopla over gender and race and sexual orientation, the one distinction in every race was the generational issue,” Mitchell said before voting closed. “The question is whether the torch will be passed this time.”

In his race, and in the race for mayor, consider the torch passed.

247 comments Add your comment

Stone Mountain Housewife

December 2nd, 2009
12:57 am

Hooray for Kasim! Let’s clean-up ATL.


December 2nd, 2009
12:59 am

Sad for Atlanta that skin color and age may be more important to voters than qualifications.


December 2nd, 2009
1:11 am

Race pure and simple, shame shame on the birth place of civil rights when will a man be judged by the content of his or character and not the color of thier skin



December 2nd, 2009
1:11 am

why would someone who has been a part of the Franklin campaign clean up ATL? You are seriously deluded by your devotion to your skin color.

My Lord!

December 2nd, 2009
1:12 am

Only God knows what will happen but lets all wait and see if he will deleiver!


December 2nd, 2009
1:14 am

Swing and a miss. As a white voter, I voted for Reed because I saw him as someone who knew what it was like to live in mid/downtown Atlanta instead of the suburbs of Buckhead. Norwood was experienced but I just don’t think she knows what it’s like living downtown. I saw Norwood as leading a misguided revolution (in your words). For me this had nothing to do with race but with experiences


December 2nd, 2009
1:14 am

Congrats to all the winners . . . now let’s give Atlanta the economic boost and advantage it needs and make this a 24/7 city once again . . . we need to separate ourselves from the Mayberrys of the world . . . . we need legalized around the clock entertainment.


December 2nd, 2009
1:22 am

I’m trying to wrap my mind around your “torch is passed” line… Generationally, yes. Politically, no, no, no.


December 2nd, 2009
1:23 am

@Frustrated… People seem to act as if whites did not vote on racial lines. Really?

But aside from race, I wonder if Mary supporters really understand the unethical things she has done. Do you all understand the many unethical and bone-head things Mary has done?

I personally think Mary is a nice person. But Mayor? No way.

Blacks H.ate Whites in the ATL

December 2nd, 2009
1:25 am

How arrogant to claim victory while leading with only a handful of votes? No surprise. It’s quite telling that bougeious p!mp-daddy Kasim held his party at the Hyatt while Norwood was with the regular folks at the Varsity. Typical Atlanta black classism.

I like how Kiss-assim complained Norwood wouldn’t vote to raise property taxes. What are you giving me for those taxes now, Kiss-assim? Potholes and electrical plates that shred my car? Nonstop smash and grabs? Endless panhandling?

Plus he’s a religious nut who uses that to justify his prejudice toward gay people.

How long until the first scandal where he gives no bid city contracts to his homeslices? Who will be the first white newscaster he sleeps with?

Disgusting. The statis quo of black racism will never go away. Atlanta is doomed to mediocrity.

NYTN @ Frustrated

December 2nd, 2009
1:26 am

African-Americans are 54 percent of Atlanta’s population. The race was won by a difference of a few hundred votes. So how was this about “race”? I don’t get it.

Tony M.

December 2nd, 2009
1:28 am

Regardless of the all the emotional accusations of identity politics, Atlanta made a wise decision today, that suggests it wants a positive future.

Blacks H.ate Whites in the ATL

December 2nd, 2009
1:32 am

No. It voted against progress and change. Forty years with the same black mafia in charge is not positive.

Good to know we have four more years of panhandling, potholes and urine soaked streets to look forward to.

Hopefully, Kiss-Assim will change the sign as you exit the airport to “Welcome to Atlanta: Burn, White Devil, Burn!” It’ll let visitors know what they’re in for.


December 2nd, 2009
1:33 am

Why are whites acting as if they did not vote along racial lines. Look, Mary Norwood did the following: voted to over turn ethical standards; paid her company $100,000 of contributor money; accepted contributions soon before/after voting in favor of big developer contracts; and much, much more. You mean to tell me that you voted for this person thinking that she represents “change.” If anything draws race into the picture, IT IS WHITES WHO VOTED FOR MARY DESPITE ALL THE AFOREMENTIONED ETHICAL PROBLEMS AND MORE.

If Kasim had done all that, whites would be cursing. Mary does it, and she still gets your support?

Blacks H.ate Whites in the ATL

December 2nd, 2009
1:36 am

Don’t worry, Race. Kiss-Assim will be in plenty of ethical trouble in no time, much like his mentors Campbell and Franklin.

He’ll be poppin’ Mo with P.Diddy at Justin’s and romancing white devil women while “making it rain” at Magic City.

What a disgusting city.


December 2nd, 2009
1:41 am

@Blacks H.te Whites in the ATL… but the issue here is people voting for Mary despite the fact that she has all those ethical challenges, which are provable. So you vote for someone after she commits seriously unethical acts and race is not an issue. Whites need to chill. Voting for Mary despite all those ethical problems, makes whites seem as if race played the deciding factor for them, if anything.

Tony M.

December 2nd, 2009
1:41 am

No one can or will take you seriously when you use every racist stereotype in the book.


December 2nd, 2009
1:42 am

Change? Seriously? How is electing a political hack that has the backing of the political machine that brought to pass the “too young to die” fate change? How is less than 1% of the un-recounted vote a referendum for change? I fully understand the masses are asses but open your eyes people! The only change Reed wants is the extra change that’ll go into the pockets of he and his.

Don’t get me wrong, Norwood isn’t much better. Her change consisted of helping to keep “blackie” outta buckhead, hurting thousands of businesses and people city wide in the process. Jim, save the newspaper. Cut it out with the yellow journalism and start turning a critical eye on ALL of the issues and players that effect this city.

Blacks H.ate Whites in the ATL

December 2nd, 2009
1:47 am

In a city with a gay population as large as Atlanta, having a mayor like Kiss-Assim is beyond a step backwards.

Racist black people, panhandlers and potholes are all Atlanta has to offer.


December 2nd, 2009
2:07 am

Sickening!! It’s a shame Georgia still has run-off elections and forces the real winners to run for election twice. Mary Norwood and her supporters should feel proud! All the while knowing the people that voted for Kasim Reed will stop at nothing to get illegal votes! Dead people, mental patients, cash for votes, etc, bring them all as long as they vote black! If its white people being accused of every thing under the sun when it comes to elections, it’s okay but if you invoke the word “black”, Jesse, Al and the rest of the crew start screaming at the top of their lungs about fraud. Mary Norwood simply had the election (if she loses; hopefully she’ll pull it out after the fact), stolen from her! You are damned right when you write that this election was about race! The people of Atlanta are still not enlightened enough to realize that they just bought themselves four more years of the same mess that has over-taken city hall for the last three decades! Congratulations!


December 2nd, 2009
2:08 am

Galloway, you just may as well as come clean as endorsing Kasim also in your little article. This is not change in any way, however it is smart politics, as I think Norwood just was no match for Kasim and always supported him. However, its media like you who try and shape political races and probably take money that ultimately were the real losers of this campaign. God bless Kasim!!!


December 2nd, 2009
2:18 am

Congratulations to Kasim Reed for running a top-notch campaign, and to his supporters, friends, and volunteers for working hard to move to the top! What a great effort to move from 3% to 51%.

Kasim”s record of working for Atlanta while he was a State Representative and State Senator will only strengthen his ability to deliver great results for Atlanta. It is clear that he loves Atlanta and have recruited a diverse Team to move our city forward! It is not all about what he can and will do; but what we all are prepared to do to move Atlanta up to the next level!

Let the healing begin!


December 2nd, 2009
2:29 am

I see these comments are becoming as nasty or worse than those in the blogs I follow on the sports page. With so much animosity toward one another, it is no wonder this city has been allowed to become such a mess. Race may have been one factor in a voter’s decision (this is a statement of fact) it is however completely irrelevant in how someone leads and how good they will be as Mayor. Bill Campbell was a crook and Shirley Franklin was just not good at the job at all. Their performance will have no bearing on how good a Mayor Reed will be. I think the more accurate factor in how people voted is income level. Those that have no trouble making ends meet responded to Norwood’s message of lower taxes. Those that can afford to pay the taxes complain the most about them. Those of us that struggle the hardest to make ends meet are just accustomed to not keeping that money. The map I saw on another website, showed the precincts won mostly by Reed started at Midtown. As someone on the edge of Midtown and Buckhead who was the victim of Atlanta’s rising crime this year, Reed spoke to us through his messages and ads. Norwood talked of crime in the abstract. Midtown, Downtown, and the surrounding area broke for Reed, those of us who have seen the crime problem get out of hand and been touched by it firsthand. Reed discussed it in details of being highly more ambitious with the number of police hirings he plans as well as the crucial step in having rec centers to keep kids out of gangs and looking for a police chief who has dealt with gangs. He knows the streets and what needs done. Norwood wants to do the right thing but doesn’t strike me as knowing what that is. I watched Buckhead go from a thriving neighborhood of shops and nightlife where it was mostly safe to walk the streets after Midnight, to becoming a ghost town with no plan of it becoming anything. I’ve seen developers put up too many condos that sit empty and create more ghost towns for stretches up and down Peachtree. Hiring companies to study the best way to fix potholes is not the answer. Unfortunately, that is what I heard from Norwood. Sure spending in City Hall is a problem, but the whole city is far worse off today with no signs of life becoming better. Her attitude of fixing the spending and then (I guess) just crossing her fingers that Atlanta will improve won’t work. This city is broken and needs strong leadership. I think Norwood is probably a nice person, but she allowed this to happen while at City Council. She is no revolutionary. I became aware of Reed from reading the excellent stories in the “Sunday Paper” that is on sidewalks next to Creative Loafing. They really did stories that hit Franklin’s administration very hard and when asked to stop, they continued bringing out the truth. They were the first I saw to endorse Reed. Then I saw the man speak at a Health Care Reform Rally on the steps of the Capitol around Labor Day. I was highly impressed. He is a take charge kind of guy who has a tough and stern way of speaking. He has shown the ability to identify what needs done more than in an abstract way and has a very tough manner of delivering his message. I voted for him twice and wish him well.

Just speaking

December 2nd, 2009
3:16 am

No matter who wins and what the outcome is, I just hope all of you all that either live, work or have any kind of dealings with the City of Atlanta know that things ain’t gonna change, no time soon…

Just hope all of ya’ll’s water bills, trash pick-up, etc. are dealt with.

For all of you who voted for Kasim, don’t hold your breath to change…..

Gonna be a real scary 4 years…

Jim too bad you live up in the mountains where none of this will effect you…..

We “ALL” will be watching Kasim. Whether folks voted for you or not.


December 2nd, 2009
3:22 am

well 35 years of a black admin. could not be wrong?

Jesus is waiting

December 2nd, 2009
3:24 am

Kasim you gonna need Jesus to start working in City Hall. Hope Lowery and all the preachers are praying for you brother….cause you are gonna need it.

Funny how this election turned out and was so close. Everybody paid attendtion to it.

Know you all hoping and praying that Mary don’t take it in the re-count.

No matter what and who is Mayor, let everyone say a small prayer for whomever it may be. Cause this whole election has given me a new outlook on this society and City as a whole and what we will and won’t do. I agree with Just speaking, this is going to be a real scary 4 years.

I’m moving ya’ll…out of Atlanta.

May the Lord have mercy on all of us.

Just Speaking

December 2nd, 2009
3:31 am

@ Race stop pointing fingers back and forth like Kasim is Mr. Clean. We all need to be starting to realize what is happening and hurry and make the decision if you will stay in the City and deal with all of this nonsense. Why you think the majority of folks that work with the City, County and State don’t live in the City? Something to think about…..

Don’t want to pay for the 750 police that Kasim is suppose to be bringing in.

You right Jesus is waiting WE ALL NEED TO PRAY.


December 2nd, 2009
4:02 am

Great thugs with rims will roam and rob in the city of Atlanta at will still. 100 to 1 that the next police cheif will be black too and be just as sorry if not as worse than Perpington. Probably going to be cheif turner or Major Williams from down town…two politicians that aren’t cops just like Perpington was. Thats what Atlanta wants though is a weak department, I wish APD would stop working for one day so all these idiots can see how bad the city is and how much they really need them.

No Change At All

December 2nd, 2009
4:03 am

Same old same old. Campbell = Franklin = Reed Nothing but corruption, financial mismanagement, cronyism, selective application of the law, intimidation, and thuggery. The only change here is the name. Just another thug in the line.

See ya’ – house goes on the market today.


December 2nd, 2009
4:05 am

God Bless Atlanta and everyone who still lives there, black and white.

Rick D.

December 2nd, 2009
4:20 am

The mass exodus of tax-paying citizens and business has begun.


December 2nd, 2009
4:51 am

750 cops, how about you pay and equip the one’s you have and maybe morale will get better and they will be more willing to be more proactive instead of reactive. Also, you will be able to keep the experience rather than have them leave to smaller departments.


December 2nd, 2009
5:06 am

The absolute most disappointing thing about this race, and most elections, is that the city of Atlanta has around 500,000 people living in its city limits, and only about 83,000 people cast votes!! That is well less than 20% of the citizens!! What is wrong with so many people that just don’t care anything about who leads our city, or any other office. Voter turnout in all elections is an absolute dismal disappointment – this is the biggest thing that needs to change.


December 2nd, 2009
5:33 am

Glad i dont live in atlanta, nor work there….. nor go there. You guys keep your bums and your thugs and your water dept. If kasim al muhammed al shaalah reed (why is it that so many blacks have these muslim names anyway) will ensure atl’s diesease will not spread to suburbia, he has my full support and virtual non constituent vote.

god bless.

The Late Maynord Jackson

December 2nd, 2009
5:33 am

All those dead people that voted won this one. The Jackson Machine lives to fight another day.. Get those Minority Partnerships going Kasim.


December 2nd, 2009
5:39 am

To be honest it really didnt matter what race the mayor would be. I was born and raised in Atlanta, unlike probably 80% of you critics. The last two mayor’s has either pushed low income families out of the city their grandparents created or simply constructed new townhomes that only a few could afford. Lets think back 9 years ago there were no whites or any other race jogging down moreland, boluvard, grant park or the westend area. Only BUCKHEAD was the only safehaven for those kind of recreation. So to all the comments attacking the race of the mayor, I think you should be happy uncle tom is still winning to reap the benifits you desire of this great city.


December 2nd, 2009
5:47 am

The same old “status quo”…..if race was not an issue why does he refer to himself as “african american”, and if he was not born in Africa then he is not african american, he is black. There is no hope for the city of Atlanta because there will be no change for the good of the city! God help us, he is spouting the same hope and change that Obama claimed and everyone knows what a disaster he has been! The hope was Mary Norwood….sad day for the real Atlanta.

Atlanta the NEW Detroit

December 2nd, 2009
5:47 am

The Machine has done it’s work, now we all will pay.


December 2nd, 2009
6:02 am

Change? huh???

I’m sorry but after I living in this city (yes…the City, not Stone Mountain etc….) for 20 years it is apparent to everyone that nothing will change…ever. Admittedly the choices here weren’t very attractive, but in all honesty, who would even want this job? Unless you are looking to line your own pockets and that of your buddies (e.g. Bill Campbell) I think the Reed caravans of young “campaign workers” driving around the city blaring rap music while they menacingly stared at (white) passer-by’s is a good indication of what is in store for all of us.


December 2nd, 2009
6:03 am

This is why Atlanta is still not taken seriously by anyone outside the perimeter or outside the state of GA. We still are electing based on race, no matter what Reed says.

Live in Atl

December 2nd, 2009
6:06 am

Change? LoL.

Mary Won

December 2nd, 2009
6:26 am

Mary got the most legal votes but Reed got the most total. Corrupt beginning for what will be a corrupt machine controlled administration. Way to go Jackson Friends and Family.


December 2nd, 2009
6:29 am

The Young, Franklin and Jackson families are breathing a sigh of relief this morning. Their gravy train is still running.

Satus Quo

December 2nd, 2009
6:33 am

Well done Atlanta… The professional politicians win again. 30 years of favors are owed and the citizens of this city will continue to suffer the massive fiscal waste and abuse. Atlanta will be little more than a resume line on Reed’s trip to federal government… Why so few voted, I will never understand, but those who did not, cannot complain…


December 2nd, 2009
6:39 am

How many whites work in Fulton County elections office? ONE! No more to say!

Detroit of the South

December 2nd, 2009
6:40 am

Tax Evader
Sign Stealer /Thief
Special Interests

Shirley must be proud !


December 2nd, 2009
6:40 am

But as midnight approached, boosted by a surprisingly strong turnout in a post-Thanksgiving runoff, Reed declared himself the fourth consecutive African-American to hold the city’s top office.

Jim, I’m pretty sure Reed would be the 5th consecutive black mayor, not 4th.


December 2nd, 2009
6:47 am

Atlanta voters had the chance to rock their world … to release the great potential of a city that has been strangled and sucked dry by a bloated, inefficient, surly, lazy and (at its worst) corrupt city power structure. Instead, we have elected a man who failed to pay his own taxes but who will gleefully raise them on all of us. The shake the money tree days will continue. Sad.


December 2nd, 2009
7:06 am

Ha Ha Ha..
Ya’ll White people just GET OVER IT!
We won.. We won..
Atlanta is a Chocolate town and it will ALWAYS be a chocolate town.
If you don’t like it.. get ta steppin’
We’s gonna take over this town and suck it dry..

Voice of Reason #1

December 2nd, 2009
7:06 am

I am most disappointed if Reed is the winner. And to ‘copernicus’, maybe Norwood’s living in Buckhead would be good for fashioning a better, safer intown living environment. To think that just a few hundred votes could have changed this. Geez. Four more years of mess is likely under Reed.