Independent Mary Norwood announces bid for commission chair in conservative country

Former Atlanta mayoral candidate says she wants to unify fractious Fulton County by unseating Commission Chairman John Eaves.

"Yes it is true, I'm running as an independent for Fulton County Commission Post 1 At-Large," she said on her Facebook page Monday. "I want to see that all our taxes are being used efficiently and responsibly."

Norwood showed she was a formidable candidate when, as a white woman from Buckhead, she nearly beat Kasim Reed, an African-American lawyer with strong ties to the Atlanta and Democratic establishments and former Mayor Shirley Franklin.

Norwood, who as at-large Atlanta City Council representative had worked tirelessly over the years in white and black neighborhoods, ran as the grassroots candidate and said she voted for Barack Obama for president to prove her progressive bona fides. The state Democratic Party portrayed her as a closet Republican.

She lost the officially non-partisan mayoral race by 714 votes. Now she is looking for 22,598 signatures to qualify for a ballot position as an independent in the partisan commission election. She reputedly made the announcement Sunday at a GOP event in Johns Creek in north Fulton, where there is a strong sentiment to secede and form the county of Milton.

Eaves, an African-American Democrat, won the seat in 2006. He was the first Democrat to hold the office since 1993.

Phil Kent, a conservative commentator, said that he was already in line behind Norwood after hearing her at the Johns Creek event. Kent said he told Norwood that he thought it gratifying that “you now appreciate Republicans.”

Staff writer Jim Galloway contributed to this story.