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Candidates Borders and Reed denounce racially-charged comments in mayor’s race

By Maria Saporta

Race has entered the Atlanta’s mayor’s race.

A position paper by the Black Leadership Forum, written by Aaron Turpeau, is urging the black community to rally behind one black candidate to make sure Atlanta doesn’t end up with a white mayor — notably City Councilwoman Mary Norwood who currently is ahead in the polls.

Turpeau then urges black leaders to support City Council President Lisa Borders because “she is the best black candidate in the race who has a chance to win the election because she can attract downtown white support.”

In a telephone interview, Borders said she does not agree with Turpeau’s position.

“I don’t agree with his statement at all, but I agree that he has the right to express his opinion,” Borders said. “He’s not speaking on behalf of Borders for Atlanta or for me.”

Her opponent, State Sen. Kasim Reed called on Borders to “repudiate Turpeau’s divisive comments.” He referred to Turpeau as a “Borders surrogate” and called his statements “racist.”

Reed also released the following statement:

“Not only do I find these comments racially-charged and vitriolic, I completely repudiate them because they are fundamentally wrong and do not belong in today’s society. I call on Ms. Borders to do the right thing and denounce such divisive, racist language immediately.

“These tactics divide the very community that has made Atlanta emerge as a leading city in the South and dishonors the legacies of Mayors Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, Ivan Allen, Sam Massell, and William Hartsfield. This campaign should be waged on the merits of each candidate, not the color of their skin,” Reed’s statement read.

Borders did acknowledge that Turpeau is a supporter, but added that she can’t control what any volunteer says about her or the city. She also said Turpeau wasn’t authorized to speak on behalf of the campaign.

In his paper, Turpeau laid out what was at stake, that there is a chance that for the first time in 25 years that “African Americans could lose the Mayoral seat in Atlanta, Georgia, especially if there is a run-off.”

The paper goes on to say that “time is of the ssence because in order to defeat a Norwood (white) mayoral candidacy we have to get out now and work in a manner to defeat her without a runoff, and the key is a significant black turnout in the general election.”

Borders said she believes Atlanta needs to have an open, honest and safe conversation about race. “Everyone is affected by public safety; everyone is affected by the lack of water; but we seem to be stuck on this issue,” she said. “We need to have that conversation.”

Asked if she agreed with Turpeau’s comment about the need to make sure Atlanta doesn’t end up with a white mayor, Borders said no.

“I don’t agree that you should have a mayor that’s elected based on his or her skin color,” she said. “That’s not appropriate. We have had white mayors. We have had black mayors. What we need today is the right mayor. We have a city that is broken, and we need to fix it.”

Reed is holding a press briefing on this issue at 12:30 p.m. at his campaign office at 1100 Spring St..

And Borders is holding a press briefing on the same issue at 1:30 p.m. at her campaign headquarters at 135 Walton St. downtown.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Anonymous August 27, 2009 1:22 pm

    I am very disappointedReport

  2. WDG August 27, 2009 1:33 pm

    Of all the boneheaded things that someone could write! Dr. Turpeau will probably wish he had not opened this can of worms.

    Speaking as a white person, this angers and offends me.
    This will likely energize the white voting base. I’m betting that Norwood walks away with what might have been a competitive race.Report

  3. art August 27, 2009 1:51 pm

    I, like many others have said that in todays world we should just be looking at the right person for the job. I, do however travel outside of the Atlanta region to more rural areas of the state and see regularly that things have changed VERY little outside of the island of Atlanta. Yes, you do have areas of great people that do not make race the subject of all matters….., but for the most part I see an old theme that is still very alive in old “white” Ga. The Ga legislature is the prime example of this!
    It’s really sad to see regression in mindsets, because Ga being an agriculture state of the past, people did get along a little better because we all had to work together. Yes there was bad, but it was not all hidden hate, and agendas.
    As for Atlanta, if race has set the tone for the great progressions that have taken place here, I think that being honest about what will truly keep Atl from falling victim to old southern values! Non-conservative, well traveled, urban, educated people will make the choice as to what the city will be…..I just hope people do their homework when choosing their candidate of choice.Report

  4. Frank J August 27, 2009 2:11 pm

    I thought better of Lisa Borders. Give me a break…she knew exactly what Turpeau was doing. She no longer has my vote.Report

  5. KBC August 27, 2009 4:12 pm

    Borders better do some quick damage control. This isn’t good.Report

  6. GridNight August 27, 2009 5:22 pm

    Turpeau is completely fucked, and probably lost what little bit of cred he had as “Counselor for Black America”. Give me a break! Kudos to Reed and Borders for calling out Turpeau’s vile racist statements.Report

  7. Caleb August 27, 2009 6:21 pm

    Ha! Way to go, Borders…throw your crony under the bus after your collective plot was foiled. That’s leadership for you.Report

  8. jack mcmillan August 27, 2009 7:17 pm

    This will not hurt Turpeau and more than it
    hurt that John Evans clown and all the other
    race baiters in Atlanta. Yes Atlanta is a very
    hateful city when it comes to race BUT, the fact
    is without debate that the black haters are far
    more entrenched than the old white guard that
    claim to be fighting.
    It is a beautiful thing when the truth rears it’s
    ugly head but not doubt MANY people in the black
    community from the WAOK crown “new panther” circus
    clowns are all drinking a toast to Mr Turpeau and
    wondering how they can get him in a more
    powerful position. I predict that you will soon
    see, Turpeau for Congress stickers and signs all
    over Atlanta.Report

  9. Greg August 28, 2009 10:54 am

    Shame on Turpeau for injecting this venom into this election cycle. He needs to be run out of town immediately! Anyone that holds these antiquated views should be relgated to the fringes of society and not given a platform to spew this non-sense. This man is a disgrace to this city, and he is trying to hold on to whatever sliver of power that he thinks he still has. Only members of the “old guard” would still hold onto views like this.Report

  10. FredNorth August 28, 2009 12:11 pm

    Aaron Turpeau and Lisa Borders shame on you!Report

  11. viagra October 3, 2010 12:07 pm

    hello everyone. i doubt that the author is right but i can not get rid of the feeling that no person in this world is perfect.Report


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