Garner Misleads on Unstated Positions, APN Interview
(APN) ATLANTA — Joan Garner, candidate for the Democratic nomination for Fulton County Commissioner District 6, made misleading statements on her Facebook page regarding her previous failure to take a position on two important public policy issues.
Garner is in a Run-off Election with Keisha Waites. The election is on August 10 and early voting is currently taking place.
Waites led in the General Election with 42 percent of the vote, while Garner received 39 percent.
As previously reported by APN, Garner declined to take a position on two issues raised by APN in an interview published May 21, 2010.
APN asked if she would have supported the privatization of Grady Hospital had she been on the Commission, and she replied: “I would have had to look at the details.”
APN asked if she would support funding the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, and she replied: “I would have to look at the funding program and the facts around the case of the Task Force and the funding priorities of the County.”
Waites, on the other hand, said she would support the Task Force and would not have supported the privatization of Grady.
APN cited the two issues in its endorsement of Waites prior to the General Election, and earlier this week, published an article noting that David Holder, who placed third in the General Election, had endorsed Waites for similar reasons [that is, knowledge of issues and willingness to articulate positions].
One of Garner’s supporters, Lorraine Fontana–a longtime activist in Atlanta’s GLBT community and former staffer for the Great Speckled Bird newspaper–questioned Waites about APN’s statements on Garner’s Facebook page.
“Joan, this APN article raises some questions for me and it very well might other progressives in the community – can you address the concerns Matthew expresses and help us continue to support your run?” Fontana wrote on August 03, 2010.
“Of special concern to me are where you stand on the Task Force for the Homeless situation (and homeless folks in downtown ATL in general) and the privatization of Grady Hospital,” Fontana wrote.
Garner responded on August 04, misleading readers about her APN interview.
“Lorraine, Thanks for your questions and concerns. The short answer is that I am disappointed that APN’s coverage did not accurately reflect its interview with me or my meeting with David Holder,” Garner wrote.
“The plight of the homeless, the Task Force for the Homeless situation, and Grady’s fiscal health and service delivery are indeed of concern to me. I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you personally about these and any other issues. May we set a time for a call? Zap me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org with your phone number and a convenient time to talk. In the meantime, please visit the issues page on my web site www.garnerforcommissioner.com. Again, thanks for reaching out about this,” Garner said.
First of all, APN’s interview did accurately reflect her positions, or lack thereof.
For her to say now that she is concerned about the plight of the homeless or the Task Force situation is fine. But the specific question asked was whether she would restore funding for the Task Force. She did not take a position, and still has not taken a position.
For her to say now that she is concerned about Grady’s fiscal health and service delivery is also fine. But the specific question asked was whether she would have supported the privatization had she been on the Commission. She did not take a position, and still has not taken a position.
As a candidate, she is not required to take a position on every question asked of her. However, it is misleading to suggest that she ever did take a position, or that somehow APN’s coverage did not accurately reflect her non-answers.
In addition, Garner’s campaign manager, Preston Harden–who also works for Council President Ceasar Mitchell–contacted APN to discuss the news service’s endorsement process, a couple weeks after Garner’s interview was published.
APN noted that members of APN’s Board of Directors were concerned about Garner’s lack of response on the two issues.
Harden said that Garner was “cautious.” APN invited Garner’s campaign to submit answers to the questions any time prior to our endorsement decision in early July. Harden said the campaign would do so, but they ultimately chose not to. This suggests that the candidate does not wish to articulate her positions.
APN noted in the article earlier this week that Garner also did not have an Issues page on her website and did not specify her platform.
Since then, Garner has published an issues page and added it to her website. However, despite her Facebook message, her issues page does not state her position on funding for the Task Force or the privatization of Grady.
Election data analysis shows that Garner performed best in Midtown and the equivalent of Atlanta City Council District 6, while Waites did better in South Atlanta.
Garner’s failure to take a position on the two issues suggests she does not want to alienate voters in Midtown or Virginia Highlands, many of whom may not be supportive of the Task Force or a continued public governance structure for Grady.
Waites has made an issue of Garner’s lack of response on the two questions, in a campaign mailer about to be mailed, a copy of which was obtained by APN.
Historical trends show that White and middle class voters tend to vote in Run-off Elections more often than Black and working class voters. This trend will bode well, therefore, for Garner.
In order to win the election, Waites will have to focus on turning out her voters in South Fulton and continue to garner–no pun intended–some support in Midtown.
About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for The Atlanta Progressive News and is reachable at email@example.com.
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