Race, Party, and Buckhead-Baiting in HD57 Primary (UPDATE 1)
(APN) ATLANTA — The House District 57 is quickly turning into one of the ugliest Atlanta political races in recent years, with the campaign of State Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta) and his supporters apparently engaging in using political party, race, and geography to attack State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta), her supporters, and anyone who dares to question where Mr. Taylor has been living for the last several years.
Gardner told APN that her campaign found a flyer on constituents’ cars outside of a town hall meeting that Gardner held in May 2012.
According to a copy of the flyer obtained by APN, the flyer attacks Gardner for her 2012 vote in support of again changing the makeup of the Board of Directors of MARTA. In doing so, the flyer uses the word REPUBLICAN three times, in capital letters, with a larger font, bold, and underlined.
“HB 1052 was a REPUBLICAN sponsored bill that stripped the Fulton County Commission of (2) MARTA Board appointments and gives the appointments to a group of mayors in North Fulton,” the flyer states.
“The bill also stripped the City of Atlanta and DeKalb County of (1) MARTA Board appointment and replaces them with a REPUBLICAN appointed state official,” the flyer states.
“Opposed to this bill was the Atlanta City Council, Fulton County Commission, DeKalb County Commission, and Sierra Club of Georgia. Only 4 Democrats voted for this REPUBLICAN sponsored bill,” the flyer states.
APN emailed Taylor on June 21, 2012, asking whether Taylor’s campaign was responsible for the flyer, but he failed to respond.
However, a flyer making allusions to political party as a basis to attack a candidate would be consistent with Taylor’s political playbook.
Indeed, while he worked on the Kasim Reed for Mayor campaign in 2009, Reed’s campaign sent out mailers attacking Mayoral candidate Mary Norwood for participating sometimes in Republican Primary Elections. The mailer compared Norwood to former President George W. Bush, former Gov. Sarah Palin, and right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
In this case, however, Rep. Gardner has been a consistent Democrat since before Rep. Taylor was born, Gardner told APN.
Gardner told APN that she supported HB 1052, a bill sponsored by State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-DeKalb County) because it was the only way that Republicans would allow a vote on whether to lift the requirement that MARTA spent fifty percent of its revenue on capital improvements.
Gardner says that the failure to support HB 1052–whether Republicans acted fairly or not–may ultimately result in MARTA not having enough operating money, thus requiring further service cuts or further fare increases.
“As a matter of fact, if we voted no on every bill sponsored by a Republican, we would be voting NO on nearly every bill. I don’t have time to look up the number but I’ll bet no more than ten bills sponsored by House Democrats passed,” Gardner said.
“Our opportunity to influence legislation is at the committee level and you have to be there every day, at every single committee meeting, and in private meetings with the author of the bill in order to get amendments into legislation,” Gardner said.
Meanwhile, one of Rep. Taylor’s supporters, Bill Brennan, a former attorney for Atlanta Legal Aid, who recently retired, posted a comment on APN’s website attacking two concerned parents, Allison Adair and Kim Kahwach, who last year raised questions about Rep. Taylor’s residency.
As previously reported by APN, Adair and Kahwach filed a complaint with Atlanta Public Schools regarding Rep. Taylor’s assistance to Khaatim El in his takeover of the APS BOE in 2010. Whether El and Taylor were living together at the time was relevant because as roommates, they qualified as relatives under the APS charter, possibly creating a conflict of interest.
Brennan wrote the following: “Shame on Matthew Cardinale and the Atlanta Progressive News for stooping to the worst forms of gutter politics by forming an alliance with two conservative, probably Republican, Buckhead women, Kim Kawach [sic] and Allison Adair, who have undertaken a scurrilous (and so far unsuccessful) campaign to force this progressive, decent human being from office mainly by focusing on his sexual orientation.”
The fact is that APN has never asked Adair nor Kahwach whether they are Democrats or Republicans because, to be frank, it is not important. At the local level of politics, political party affiliation is less relevant, than, for instance, one’s willingness to stand up to developers, especially in Atlanta.
Yet, Taylor’s supporter, Mr. Brennan, was attacking these two parents on the basis of their living in Buckhead, as if they must be Republicans because they live in Buckhead, and as if only Republicans would dare question where Mr. Taylor lives.
In addition, last week, a commenter named “Kelvin” wrote the following on the Cascade Patch, as a comment to a video featuring Rep. Gardner: “But hey, she is a 73 year old white woman who lives in Morningside so I guess all her black maids over the year [sic] has given her the experience to deal with her new black maids—Mitiz [sic, Mitzi] Bickers, Dwanda Farmer, and Erica Pines.”
Bickers and Pines are working for Gardner’s campaign. Farmer is a concerned citizen who lives in District 57, but does not work for the campaign. All three are Black.
Incidentally, Rep. Gardner looks amazing for 72, which is her age, according to the Secretary of State of Georgia’s website.
UPDATE: At first, this article incorrectly listed State Rep. Mike Jacobs as a Democrat; he is a Republican. The article has been corrected to reflect this change.