APN Endorsements Pt. 2: Norwood Post 2, Shakir D11, Fletcher D3
(APN) ATLANTA — The Atlanta Progressive News Board of Directors is pleased to announce our second round of municipal candidate endorsements for 2013.
Last week, we endorsed two progressive incumbents on the City Council of Atlanta who are facing challengers: Natalyn Archibong (District 5) and Felicia Moore (District 9).
This week, we are endorsing three candidates who are posing a progressive alternative to the incumbents they are challenging: former Councilwoman Mary Norwood (Post 2-at-large) challenging Councilman Aaron Watson (Post 2-at-large); Ron Shakir challenging Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms (District 11); and Rev. Darrion Fletcher challenging Ivory Young (District 3).
NORWOOD FOR POST 2-AT-LARGE
This endorsement should come as no surprise. Atlanta Progressive News endorsed Mary Norwood for Mayor of Atlanta in 2009.
Aaron Watson–who supported the mass eviction of public housing residents and mass demolitions of public housing during his term on the Atlanta Housing Authority Board of Directors–has gone on to be the second least progressive member on the Atlanta City Council. His current score is 32.26 out of 100.
Watson is a steady vote for the regressive and oppressive Kasim Reed agenda; and he is the chosen candidate of the business community, real estate developers, and airport concessionaires.
APN has learned that Mayor Reed has told Watson he has an unlimited budget. That is, Reed plans to spend some of his own campaign war chest to keep Watson in office.
According to two sources familiar with the matter, the Watson campaign is planning a series of vicious, misleading attacks on Norwood, reminiscent of Reed’s 2009 campaign against Norwood.
Aside from quietly supporting the Reed agenda, Watson has little or no legislative or community advocacy accomplishments to point to. His main achievements have involved organizing bike rides around Atlanta and having a cooking show on Channel 26.
Watson has supported: limiting public comment, in several different votes in 2010 and 2013; the sale of City Hall East for well below its market value in 2010; the waiver of affordability requirements for the City Hall East redevelopment in 2010; the Yolanda Adrean (District 8) pension reform proposal which would have shifted even current employees away from a defined benefit plan in 2011; the airport concessions contracts in 2011; the new Falcons stadium in 2012; the panhandling legislation allowing up to 180 days in jail for first offenders in 2012; the sole source contract with Fog Fuels in 2012; the Lindbergh rezoning for a new Walmart in 2012; the Cheshire Bridge rezoning to get rid of existing adult entertainment establishments in 2013; and a slush fund for the Atlanta Development Authority in 2013.
Meanwhile, Watson opposed a three percent pay increase for City employees in 2013; protecting elephants from circuses that visit Atlanta and use bullhooks to torture elephants in 2012; and extending bar closure hours back to 4am in 2011.
Norwood, on the other hand, is independent from the current political regime in Atlanta, and she is independent from the two political parties, neither of which have consistently offered a progressive policy direction for Atlanta or for Georgia.
Norwood has spent over twenty years developing solid relationships with neighborhood leaders, seniors, and community organizations in every geographic area of Atlanta.
Norwood also has a history of bridging the gap between White and Black Atlanta. In 2009, she received support from all sectors of the City, and the evidence suggests she received more support from Blacks in Atlanta than Reed received from Whites in Atlanta.
Norwood is extremely knowledgeable about the inner-workings of the city as well as the diverse leadership and interests throughout our neighborhoods.
Most importantly, Norwood is open-minded and accessible. For seven years now, she has returned almost all of APN’s phonecalls since we first contacted her in 2006 regarding her McMansion Moratorium. APN has heard from dozens of people all across the City–especially in impoverished areas like Southwest Atlanta–who tell the same story: We tried calling everyone, but Mary returned our calls; Mary is the only one who did something.
Norwood has historically received fewer donations from developers and corporate donors than other municipal candidates. This was the case in 2009, and will likely play itself out against this year in her race against Watson.
Norwood has a record of going up against development interests on behalf of neighborhood preservation and affordable housing. She supported Felicia Moore’s 2009 legislation to give the Council some oversight over the public housing demolitions, and she pushed through her McMansion Moratorium legislation, against the wishes of developers.
In her video announcing her run for her old Council seat, she emphasized that she is the same person she was four years ago… But APN believes that’s not totally true. APN believes that Norwood version 2013 is even better than Norwood version 2009. As a result of her rough and personally challenging campaign experiences, she is more compassionate, more-hardworking, and more ready than ever before to make progressive policy contributions to the City of Atlanta.
SHAKIR FOR DISTRICT 11
APN is pleased to endorse Ron Shakir for District 11. To us, Shakir is an ideal candidate. He is an advocate for lower-income people and homeless people, he speaks up for affordable housing and against gentrification, he is a strong advocate for public input, and, most importantly, he has been consistently attending and speaking out at City Council meetings, both Full Council and Committee Meetings, since at least 2008.
This means that unlike most City Council candidates, apparently including most incumbents, Shakir understands the procedural issues that hinder the policymaking process: the problems of walk-in papers that sidestep the committee process; the failure to allow, let alone value, public input; lack of oversight; and the failure of most Councilmembers to ask appropriate critical questions.
Shakir will be ready to hit the ground running. Like Hillary Clinton, he’ll be ready to lead on Day One.
Shakir is a compelling and powerful speaker. For just one example of his speeches to the Atlanta City Council, see a video of his remarks on October 01, 2012 concerning the draconian proposal to criminalize certain panhandling activities in the City of Atlanta, which is posted on the APN Video Section here:
Bottoms, on the other hand, has been at the bottom of the APN City Council Scorecard for nearly the entirety of the four years since she began serving in 2010. Like Watson, she has quietly supported the Reed agenda. Her current score is 30.30 out of 100.
Bottoms supported public speaking limits in 2010 and 2013; she supported the sale of City Hall East for a song, and the waiver of affordability requirements for the redevelopment in 2010; she supported the Adrean pension reform proposal in 2011; she opposed extending bar hours to 4am in 2011; she supported the Macrina nomination in 2011; she supported the airport concessions contracts in 2012; was the only Councilwoman to support the failed Willis proposal to change the ethics chair selections process in 2012; she opposed the bullhook ban in 2012; she supported the FogFuels contract in 2012; she supported the Lindbergh rezoning in 2012; she supported the new Falcons stadium in 2013; she supported the Cheshire Bridge rezoning in 2013; she supported the Atlanta Development Authority slush fund in 2013; and she opposed a three percent city worker pay increase in 2013.
APN hopes to interview Shakir regarding his campaign, but does not need to interview him to know that, based on his consistent prior public comments, he has been on the progressive side of most, if not all, of these issues.
FLETCHER FOR DISTRICT 3
Councilman Young has declined in recent years in terms of the progressive quality of his voting record. His current score on the APN City Council Scorecard is 38.1 out of 100.
In 2010, Young supported limiting public comment, and was one of five Councilmembers who refused to disclose his secret vote on the matter, thus leading APN’s News Editor to file a lawsuit against the City of Atlanta. Young disclosed his vote two years later after APN prevailed at the Supreme Court of Georgia. Also in 2010, Young supported the sale of City Hall East to a developer poised to make hundreds of millions.
In 2011, Young supported the Adrean proposal to take away pension benefits from current city employees, completely shifting the pension from defined benefit to defined contribution.
In 2012, Young supported the controversial airport concessions contracts, despite numerous problems with the bidding and selections process; he opposed preventing circuses from beating elephants in the City of Atlanta; he supported a sole source contract with FogFuels; he supported two draconian proposals to increase jail time for certain categories of panhandling; and he supported a Walmart in the Lindbergh neighborhood opposed by the surrounding communities.
In 2013, Young supported the Falcons Stadium, despite the fact that no Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) has been put in place.
Fletcher, on the other hand, was opposed to the Falcons Stadium. He has been a strong advocate for low-income people, also opposing the Mims Park proposal. Through his ministry without walls, he has regularly sponsored numerous events throughout the Vine City community in an effort to serve and uplift some of Atlanta’s most disadvantaged citizens.