Atlanta’s newest mayor is Kasim Reed. And yes, Reed is a black man. For many, that very fact is enough to send them back into the comfort of their race-centered outlook on all things politics. For the numerous white residents moving back in the city, it may lend some pause. After all, this was their time. Mary Norwood captured the general election rather easily, but didn’t get the required 50 percent of the votes to prevent a runoff. Now she is mayor-less, for the moment at least. A recount is almost certain to happen.
This seems like the equivalent of the Ali-Foreman upset. Norwood was the clear favorite going into the general election. Reed, like Ali, represented the washed-up black mayoral coterie that didn’t seem as effective anymore. The surge of white residents within city limits, a disgruntled democratic base and the backing of Buckhead (only Atlanta’s largest tax base) made this Norwood’s election to lose. Yet, Reed snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
The black mayoral regime is sustained. But what exactly does that mean? Atlanta may be a pretty face, but it has blemishes. And not just run-of-the-mill blemishes. I’m talking craters.
What’s going to be done for the inordinate amount of black children mired in poverty? The unabashed cuddling with business developers? What can we expect from a mayor who used endorsements from P. Diddy, Jamie Foxx, Ludacris, Jamal Crawford and other celebs to blatantly pander to a younger audience, risking insult to the intelligence of conscious Gen Y’ers?
Will the chasm between the City Council and the Mayor continue? What about the pending Beltline project that is sure to alter the architectural and demographic landscape of the city? Will more whites continue to move into the city as a prolific pace? What about the escalating crime and the diminishing police department?
Kasim Reed went after Gov. Sonny Perdue for his “hostility for the entire Northern region of the state” in these video clips (Part I and Part II). Does Reed’s ascension to the top spot exacerbate this souring relationship, though their offices are only a block away from each other? Will Georgia finally kick some ducats to MARTA and the city in general? What about this current deficit that Atlanta is facing?
Of course, this all doesn’t fall on the mayor. City Council plays a hefty role in this as well. The biggest unknown, perhaps, is the awareness of the citizens and denizens of Atlanta. It is more than natural for people to relax after the election dust settles. But for actual solutions to come, there must be an actively, engaged constituency. After all, a democracy is a system in which the people rule. So if the government wanted to pass some dubious agenda, say, cutting police department budget to allocate more funds for developments, then the best way to do that is to encourage a sleepwalking constituency.
Black people from Atlanta have stepped up in the Obama-McCain and Reed-Norwood elections. After a setback in the Jim Martin-Saxby Chambliss senatorial race, we’ve proven to be motivated by race, if nothing else. Interesting: The more government leaders claim change, the more things seemingly stay the same.