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Atlanta’s mayoral race takes shape amid mounting debt and school board challenges

A seat in Atlanta City Hall is a prime objective of candidates who have paid their fees to campaign for office. Credit: wabe.org

By David Pendered

Atlanta voters can be fairly certain they’ll be hearing from 13 candidates for mayor and three candidates for city council president, based on preliminary reports. There’s no news since early July on the raising and spending of campaign funds, when two frontrunners for mayor were more than $900,000 in combined debt for a job that pays less than $150,000 a year, according to reports.

The uncertainty over who is a candidate will be lifted once elections officials certify that proposed candidates meet the criteria for serving in a particular public office in Atlanta.

The reported debt was incurred by mayoral candidates Peter Aman and Keisha Lance Bottoms.

The mayor’s salary currently is set at $147,500.

Aman reported a total debt of $835,024 against cash on hand of close to $802,000, according to Aman’s financial disclosure report dated July 10.

Bottoms’ amended form was processed literally one minute after her original report:

  • The original report processed July 10 at 11:08 p.m. showed cash on hand of $385,531.41 and debt of $180,823.11 ($80,279.95 debt at beginning of reporting period and loan of $100,543.16).
  • One minute later, an amended report showed cash on hand of $427,604.81 and debt of $80,279.95 (reduced starting debt to $30,030.95 and reduced loan to $50,249.00).

Two new mayoral candidates did jump into the race after the financial disclosure reporting period ended June 30 – Glenn Wrightson and Carl Jackson.

Wrightson ran for mayor in 2013 on a platform that touted, “Practical Solutions for the Common Good.” One solution was to ban the renaming of streets during the four-year administration. Wrightson’s webpage for the current campaign says that it is under construction. He declared his candidacy Aug. 24.

Jackson does not appear to have created a website or made any announcements that generated a footprint on the Internet. He declared his candidacy July 13.

Two members of the Atlanta Board of Education are trying to make the shift to the Atlanta City Council. The two entities have a rocky relation that involves issues including the ownership of property and ongoing concerns related the quality of education provided by APS.

School board chair Courtney English, who is elected citywide, has challenged Councilmember Michael Julian Bond for the citywide Post 1 seat.

School board member Matt Westmoreland is running for the citywide Post 2 that Councilmember Mary Norwood is vacating to campaign for mayor. Three candidates are vying for the seat – Bret Williams, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, and Cory Ruth, an information technology consultant.

Incumbent councilmembers facing multiple challengers serve in districts that are undergoing rapid revitalization – another word for potentially steep property tax hikes.

Residents recognize that the property tax abeyances approved this year by Fulton County commissioners – including mayoral candidate and Fulton County Chair John Eaves – are likely to be short-lived.

Here’s the breakout:

  • District 1: Councilmember Carla Smith, four challengers;
  • District 3: Councilmember Ivory Lee Young, Jr., three challengers;
  • District 4: Councilmember Cleta Winslow, nine challengers;
  • District 5: Councilmember Natalyn Archibong, two challengers;
  • District 12: Councilmember Joyce Sheperd, three challengers.

The following materials show the campaign warchests available as of the reporting period that ended June 30.


Mayoral Candidates

Candidate’s name Cash on hand Total debt
Aman, Peter $801,178.65 $835,024
Ammanamanchi, Rohit $1,303.29
* Bottoms, Keisha Lance $427,604.81 $80,279.9
Eaves, John $55,279.26
Fort, Vincent $230,908.27
Hall, Kwanza $361,070.11
Jackson, Carl Declared for office July 13
** King, Laban $1,428
Mitchell, Ceasar $529,341.67
Norwood, Mary $653,278.59
Sterling, Michael $77,156.19
Woolard, Cathy $379,296.85
Wrightson, Glenn Declared for office Aug. 24


* Amended report. ** Incomplete report. Period ending June 30, 2017           




Council President Candidates


Candidate’s name Cash on hand Total debt
Martin, C.T. $178,008.68
Moore, Felicia $115,468.85
Wan, Alex $172,516.26

For the period ending June 30.


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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