Norwood’s Yardsigns: Broadbent, Pitts, Beskin, Hodges


norwoodsigns1(APN) BUCKHEAD — Former City Councilwoman Mary Norwood (Post 2-at-large), who previously ran for Mayor of Atlanta and attempted to gain ballot access as an independent candidate for Fulton County Chairperson, is supporting one Democrat and one Republican in the two contested General Election contests for at-large seats on the Fulton County Commission.

Atlanta Progressive News drove by Norwood’s home in Buckhead, and observed that she has four yard signs out front: Steve Broadbent, a Republican for Fulton County Chairperson; Robb Pitts, the Democratic incumbent for Post 2-at-large on the Commission; Beth Beskin, a Republican who is challenging State Sen. Horacena Tate, the Democratic incumbent; and Ken Hodges, the Democratic nominee for Attorney General of Georgia.

“I think all four candidates would be good. I have different reasons for every one of them. I’m a private citizen now, I’m not a candidate. All four bring the right qualifications for their specific roles that they would be playing in our government,” Norwood told APN in a phone interview.

“I look at the individuals. I don’t look at the party. I think it’s important we start moving in that direction. In both of my campaigns, we had tremendous support from all over, people that had party affiliations and people that didn’t, and a wide range,” Norwood said.norwoodsigns2

“I have been not in the midst of the political season. These are the people I hope people will give consideration to. These are very different races, one State Senator, one Attorney General, one is County Commission, one is Chair of the Commission. I’m looking at the job and looking at the person,” Norwood said.

“We all get caught up in not doing that, I think we should do that. We should look at people at how they will exercise their responsibilies and carry out the duty of the job, and I think these four would do a good job at doing that,” Norwood said.

As for Norwood’s support for Broadbent, she said she believes Broadbent when he says he wants he unite Fulton County and keep the county together.

“Plus he is someone that will be good conduit; if we have a Republican legislature and a Republican governor, it’s important to have someone in the county who has a relationship with the legislature if that’s so, and with the governor if that’s so,” Norwood said.

“I know he will protect interests of all people in Fulton County. This is not somebody into any of the rhetoric last year. I have been pleased that’s not a path his campaign has gone down,” Norwood said.

Unlike some Georgia Republicans, Broadbent has been supportive for equality for homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered people, including by attending events in Midtown such as Atlanta Pride 2010. Broadbent also completed an interview with APN and participated in APN’s candidates’ forum last month in Midtown.

Norwood’s support for Broadbent makes sense for several reasons. First, Norwood obviously was not initially satisfied with the performance of Chairman Eaves, or else she would not have run against him. Second, unlike Broadbent, Mr. Eaves and his campaign set out to keep Norwood from gaining ballot access, including by challenging the pre-printed word Fulton on her petitions, and by attempting to join as a party in the lawsuit to keep her off the ballot related to the filing deadline.

Third, according to previous interviews with Broadbent, Norwood had stated at previous forums while she was still a candidate that she had agreed with much of Broadbent had been saying in terms of how to reform Fulton County.

Broadbent said he was not prepared to make an immediate comment.

As previously noted by APN, the outcome of the Chairman’s race could hinge on what would-be Norwood supporters–who ranged across the political spectrum–will choose to do. Will Norwood supporters be able vote for Eaves, after he fought to prevent voters from having more meaningful choices on the ballot? Will they vote for Broadbent? Or will they simply stay home, a move which still helps Mr. Broadbent?

As for Norwood’s support of Pitts, the two have always had a good working relationship going back to their days on the City Council of Atlanta. Pitts, like Norwood, has always been independent of the Democratic Party political machine; and like Norwood, often disagreed with former Mayor Shirley Franklin.

Pitts has always been a more conservative Democrat, and lists himself as a moderate on his Facebook page.

“Robb [Pitts] and I have worked together over the years. He was a great supporter in the Mayor’s race. He was not necessarily out on big billboards for me, I didn’t ask him to. He was very supportive and felt that we could get a lot done. We had conversations when I did Fulton County. I was never a candidate, but certainly we kept our friendship and our communication,” Norwood said.

APN was unable to reach Pitts, however, because no campaign phone number is listed on his website or Facebook page.

“Ken Hodges and I have known each other for ten years, he and my husband served on the same statewide board. I know the good work he’s done. He is a prosecutor, he has the background to be Attorney General in my view. Go to his website and you’ll see the amazing number of endorsements from law enforcement,” Norwood said.

“It’s great. We’re happy that she has a yard sign,” Matt Caseman, a spokesperson for the Ken Hodges campaign, told APN, adding that Hodges considers Norwood a personal friend. Like Pitts, Hodges is also a conservative Democrat.

“I certainly had a lot more people that wanted my support, these are the four that I made the decision,” Norwood said.

“I know that Mary is an independent-thinking and fair-minded person, and I’m thrilled she has my yard sign in her yard,” Beth Beskin told Atlanta Progressive News.

Beskin describes herself as a progressive Republican. “I’m a fiscal conservative. And open-minded and fair socially. My own personal life is very conventional, but I’m open-minded about everyone else.”

As for Norwood’s comment that she is now a private citizen, she elaborated, “People need to know when to get on the stage and when to get off the stage. I have been chewed up and spit out and attacked probably more than anybody else in the State of Georgia.”

Norwood did have a float in the Atlanta Pride parade for the Southeastern Horticulture Society’s flower show, which this year she is co-chairing along with her husband, Dr. Felton Norwood.


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