Atlanta mayoral candidates talk crime, budget

Nine Atlanta mayoral hopefuls jostled for elbow room and votes at a crowded debate Thursday evening.

The candidates focused on crime and city finances at the debate, organized by the National Action Network. It was the largest gathering of candidates hoping to succeed Shirley Franklin, the two-term incumbent. A standing-room crowd of about 150 people attended the debate at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History.

For some candidates, the debate was the first chance they had to present their case to voters. Some delivered one-liners. Others criticized the candidates who have raised the most money.

Several candidates said the city needs to hire more police officers. State Sen. Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta) reiterated his proposal to hire 750 cops in his first term. Reed and candidate Glenn Thomas differed over whether the plan is realistic.

City Council President Lisa Borders and Councilwoman Mary Norwood defended their records, despite criticism that they bear some responsibility for the city’s financial troubles.

Borders, Norwood and Reed declined to answer a question defining one another’s weaknesses.

“That is something for you all to figure out,” Norwood said.

The actual period for candidates to fill out paperwork and pay $4,425 to run for mayor begins Aug. 31 and ends Sept. 4.

Here’s a sample of some remarks made by each candidate at Thursday night’s Atlanta mayoral debate:

  • City Council President Lisa Borders on a program that helps more cops live in the city: "No one is going to break in your home when a police officer lives next door."
  • Tiffany Brown, a business owner, on having the downtown Ambassador Force serve as auxiliary officers: "They can be the eyes and ears of the police department."
  • Peter Brownlowe, a former Atlanta police officer, on reorganizing city government: "It's a machine that's broken."
  • Rod Mack, who works in logistics, on his support for casino gambling: "We can recover some of [the gambling money going elsewhere] and stop taxing people to death."
  • Councilwoman Mary Norwood on her reluctance to hire a police chief not from Atlanta: "It takes them a long time for them to figure out where Adamsville is, where Moores Mills is and Browns Mill is."
  • State Sen. Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta) on recreation centers: "We have to open up the recreation centers, and more than that, we have to turn them into centers of hope."
  • Duvwon Robinson, a community activist, on demanding churches assist in community improvement efforts: "In 100 days, you are going to help or pack up and get out."
  • Jesse Spikes, an attorney, on the key to bringing new businesses to Atlanta: "The main thing is to make it a safe, clean city people want to enjoy."
  • Glenn Thomas, former city employee, on wasted city revenue he said Borders and Norwood didn't stop: "The city is not broke. The leadership is."