The Jolt: Buckhead, Atlanta’s new mayor and the Forgiveness Session

Keisha Lance Bottoms at an Atlanta mayoral debate last year. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Keisha Lance Bottoms at an Atlanta mayoral debate last year. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

One of the more peculiar rituals of Atlanta politics unfolded Wednesday, when Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addressed 109 business and political leaders to a gathering of the Buckhead Coalition.

The event is held annually, but has taken on additional meaning every eight years or so – after a hot mayoral contest. Call it the Forgiveness Session.

The newly elected African-American mayor of Atlanta forgives majority white Buckhead for not supporting her/him in the previous year’s hostilities. And majority white Buckhead forgives the new mayor for not being the candidate it backed.

The tradition began with Andrew Young, the former U.N. ambassador who beat Sidney Marcus, a state lawmaker, in the 1981 race for mayor.

Last year, the Buckhead Coalition backed Councilwoman Mary Norwood in the mayoral runoff, and Norwood carried Buckhead. But on Wednesday, tables were decorated with a “Together Atlanta” motif, drawn from Bottoms inauguration speech earlier this month, according to Sam Massell, the former mayor and long-time mayor of the Buckhead Coalition.

For her part, Bottoms renewed a campaign promise not to treat prosperous Buckhead as an ATM for the rest of the city.

Before her election in December, Bottoms was a district councilwoman representing southwest Atlanta, where she grew up. The mayor recounted drives made to pick up a grandmother who for 30 years worked at Davison’s in Buckhead – now Macy’s.

Her family often took the backroads from southwest Atlanta. The journey, she said, became a lesson in the city’s “seamless communities” that flowed one after another.

“When Buckhead is strong, we know the south side is strong. And we know when the south side is strong, the north side is strong,” she told the Buckhead Coalition crowd. “So I am committed to making sure we continue to work together to make sure our entire city is as strong as it can possibly be.”


Knowing that Georgia officials will almost certainly ignore it, we'll just file this Washington Post article here:

As officials in 20 finalist locations scramble to provide additional data to in their quest to land the company's second headquarters, urban development expert Richard Florida and dozens of his cohorts are urging governors and mayors to join a "Non-Aggression Pact" against offering huge taxpayer subsidies.


As you well know, House Bill 159, the much-talked about adoption bill, foundered in the state Senate last year when an amendment was tacked on to offer legal protections to private child placement agencies that accept taxpayer funding – but don't want to deal with same-sex couples.

That language has been dropped this year. But rather than abandoning it, religious conservatives have simply shifted their forces to another venue. From a list of congressional priorities issued Wednesday by the lobbying arm of the Southern Baptist Convention:

Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act

This act would prohibit the federal government and any state receiving certain federal funding from discriminating against service providers on the grounds that the provider declines to participate in a child welfare social service in ways or under circumstances which conflict with their sincerely held beliefs.


The words "climate change" are missing in this report from the Georgia Tech public relations machine, but the subtext is there:

Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is seeking eligible manufacturers to participate in a disaster assistance program designed to help companies that are located in the state's coastal areas assess their preparedness and develop operational solutions to minimize the impact of future hurricanes and other natural disasters.


There's a quirk to the escalating back-and-forth between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp over paper ballots: Kemp voted for legislation as a state senator that would create a paper ballot system in 2004.

The Republican gubernatorial rivals have traded shots over an election system overhaul over the last week, since Cagle said a paper trail ensures "no games" could be played with votes. Kemp said through a spokesman that Cagle was siding with "liberal conspiracy theorists."

Kemp's campaign said the candidate has long been an advocate of paper ballots, pointing to a pilot program launched last year, and that he's advocating for a cleaner process to effect the changes.


The Georgia Voice dubbed it Stacey Abrams' "big gay weekend."

The ex-House Democratic leader and gubernatorial candidate appeared at an Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce event in Midtown last Friday, then followed it up Saturday by inviting several dozen LGBTQ elected officials and leaders to her campaign headquarters in the Kirkwood neighborhood.

Both Abrams and her Democratic rival, former state Rep. Stacey Evans, have appealed to LGBT voters in unprecedented ways.

The Georgia Voice piece by Patrick Saunders compares the outreach to Jason Carter's 2014 campaign for governor. From the piece:

Carter stayed mum on LGBTQ issues, skipped marching in the Atlanta Pride parade, refused interviews with LGBTQ media and quietly came out for same-sex marriage a day after a Georgia Voice editorial criticized him for not already doing so. Democrat Michelle Nunn, who ran against David Perdue for a U.S. Senate seat that same year, followed the same playbook.

"I think that 2018 is a very different year than '14," Abrams said when asked about the difference in strategies and if she's worried about the repercussions of publicly embracing the LGBTQ community. "I don't cast aspersions on their approach, but I will say that my approach to every campaign that I've ever run is to be as engaged as possible and to be as accessible as possible."


DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston has already publicly professed her support for Stacey Evans' campaign for governor. But on Wednesday she amped up her role -- she'll lead Evans effort to reach out to female voters. Our AJC colleague Joshua Sharpe was on hand for the announcement in Decatur.

"The naysayers say Georgia isn't ready to go blue. They say Georgia won't elect a woman. They don't know this woman who I know,” said Boston. “As an African American woman, I am able to look beyond race.”


Should he ever tire of the traditional white or black, President Donald Trump now has a pair of colorful Georgia socks in his possession.

The commander-in-chief was presented with a pair of official Aflac socks from a company employee during an event Wednesday touting the recently-signed tax bill:

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