At tonight’s Atlanta mayoral forum at the Uptown Restaurant and Lounge, the real story was not about who showed up, but who didn’t.
Four candidates did attend the forum sponsored by Newsmakers Live!: Atlanta Councilwoman Mary Norwood, State Sen. Kasim Reed, Attorney Jesse Spikes and Glenn Thomas, an executive manager.
Atlanta City Councilman Ceasar Mitchell was a no show, and the word at the forum was that he was dropping out of the mayor’s race.
Now the speculation is that Mitchell will enter the race for City Council President. His colleague on council, Clair Muller, just announced today that she’s running for council president.
Both council members likely decided to enter that race when current City Council President Lisa Borders announced she was re-entering the mayor’s race.
Borders was the other mayoral candidate who did not make it to the forum.
Borders had announced her candidacy while standing in front of the steps of the old Atlanta City Hall this morning. As luck would have it, she was able to pull off the announcement between rain showers.
Borders announced her candidacy this morning on the steps of the old City Hall, a development I told readers woud happen in a front page story in last week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Borders had already committed to attend a planned public safety meeting in Council District 12 during the same time, even though she told organizers that she would try to attend after that public meeting.
The forum, however, ended without Borders in attendance.
So the other four candidates answered questions from moderator Maynard Eaton in hopes they would be able to capture the limelight in a race that is becoming increasingly complex.
The recurring themes were the city’s finances, public safety, transportation and governance. The candidates also said they would do all they could to find operational savings in the city’s budget rather than increase property taxes and other fees.
While these issues have been swirling around, this week has been a turning point for the Atlanta mayor’s race. While most of these candidates have been campaigning for months, it now feels as though the mayoral race is shifting into high gear.
From now till November, voters will be able to get to know the candidates who want to succeed Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.
But with Borders back in the running, the race has now entered a new realm — confounding some longtime political observers and causing some shifts in support.
As my former colleague at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Eric Sturgis told me earlier today, the mayoral race has just become much more interesting for voters and journalists alike.