The AJC's Katie Leslie brings us the Friday night news that Michael Sterling, a one-time adviser to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, has decided against challenging Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.
The state party has struggled to find a credible and willing challenger to Isakson, who is seeking a third term after disclosing in June that he has Parkinson’s disease.
Former U.S. Rep. John Barrow and former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin aren’t interested in a bid. Nor is former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter. The Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, also decided against a run earlier this year.
Sterling, who heads the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, informed his staff of his decision in his office's weekly newsletter. Here's a copy of what he sent:
We have more work to do.
Many of you have seen the reports and have discussed the possibility that I would leave the agency, but you were either too polite or too apprehensive to ask me about it personally. I’ve never been dishonest with you and I won’t start now. I have been considering an opportunity and being vetted to become a candidate for United States Senate in Georgia. It is certainly an incredible opportunity and deep honor to be considered in such regard.
After much thought, prayer and consideration, I have decided to stay right here at AWDA with you.
When I first started, we were labeled the City of Atlanta’s “most dysfunctional agency” with a recommendation from the city auditor that “The Mayor and City Council should consider discontinuing the agency.” I personally recruited many of you from classrooms, board rooms, social agencies and private companies. I retained many of you who had experienced and lived the dysfunction, but somehow managed to be a rose in the concrete for so many residents. I told you that we would “earn it every day.” You believed me when I said to you that this was a special place with a special mission even when it was extraordinarily hard to see the light. You believed me when I said that if we worked together, we could change this place, transform lives and improve the circumstances for so many people in our City.
Every week I sit down and write these messages to convey to you the importance and seriousness of our work. I don’t share it on facebook or twitter or anywhere else. I share it with you, the people who work with the left behind and forgotten in our city, the people who deal hope and opportunity every day. And while it is an honor to be considered for the United States Senate, it is an honor to wake up every morning and come to work with you to help people find their way back. It is an honor to wake up every morning and do the work that will change their lives forever. Every day isn’t perfect, but we do transformational work every day. And yet, we have more work to do.
For the last two years, the City of Atlanta was named by the Brookings Institute as worst of all major American cities when it comes to economic inequality. That means we have the largest gap between rich and poor of any major American city. We have more work to do here at AWDA. In our city, nearly twenty-five percent of Atlanta children born to parents at the bottom of the income ladder will remain there until adulthood and less than half will make their way into the middle class. We have more work to do here at AWDA. In this city, eighty percent of African-American children live in communities with high concentrations of poverty. We have more work to do. And when our residents who have been left behind and forgotten can’t turn anywhere else, they can turn to you. It doesn’t matter what their situation or circumstances are, we don’t turn anyone away. We earn it every day.
I meant what I have said in every weekly message, every staff meeting and every private conversation. This is good and important work. This is a special place. We provide hope and then we back that hope up with resources and opportunities for people to come out of difficult circumstances.
We are making a real difference. But we have more work to do.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.