Atlanta’s 2017 Mayoral Candidates

In the past couple of weeks I attended the Atlanta mayoral forums on transportation and the arts. These two forums offered a lot of insight from the candidates not only on how they would approach these two specific issue areas, but also in how they would govern as Mayor of Atlanta.

Based on my personal observations of the candidates, I walked into the forums with a mind most open to choosing either Peter Aman, Kwanza Hall, or Cathy Woolard. I also saw these forums as an opportunity in particular for Keisha Lance Bottoms and John Eaves in particular to capture my attention.

Here are five qualities I seek in a mayoral candidate:

  • Vision: Does the candidate have a clear vision for the city’s future that is respectful of its history, culture, and people?
  • Administrative Leadership: Can the candidate cobble together a great team of people who will help that mayor carry the vision forward, while also keeping an eye on the small details of keeping the city safely running?
  • Civic Leadership: Can the candidate inspire citizens, the business community, and other officials at the local, state, and federal levels to buy in to the vision?
  • Ethical Leadership: How would the candidate weigh difficult choices? Is the candidate willing to take a difficult, slow road to resolution, or is the candidate the type to claim that you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs? And if so, which eggs would the candidate be willing to break? How would the candidate know whether the slow road or the omelet is the best approach in one situation or another?
  • Temperament: How does the candidate respond to criticism, or if something goes wrong in pursuit of the vision? Can the candidate adjust to changing circumstances?

No candidate is the perfect candidate, and I can only choose one. So I made an omelet on my way to making my decision.

Of the candidates I named above Peter Aman and Cathy Woolard do well enough in my judgment to earn a passing score. But only Cathy Woolard has demonstrated through her experience the vision, leadership, and temperament to earn my vote. She has legislative experience as an elected official, and executive experience in multiple sectors. She had the vision to push the Beltline through the legislative process against all odds. And she has shown more clarity of vision compared to the other candidates over the course of her campaign. Cathy Woolard has that edge over Peter Aman in my assessment.

If there were one candidate I would not support for mayor, it’s Mary Norwood. I consider her to be a pretty good City Council member. Her energy in attending neighborhood meetings all over the city, and her knowledge of and use of the legislative process are huge strengths. However, I also see her as a politician who often makes far more promises than she can deliver and takes far more credit for good things than she ever deserves. As a legislative politician, she’s pretty good. As an executive politician, she would be a disaster. In my view, she does not score well on any measure. However, she scores particularly low on vision and administrative leadership.

If I have the time and energy, I’ll write some more about this race and my view of the mayoral candidates in the coming weeks.

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