Committee for a Better Atlanta scores city candidatesThe second mayoral panel featured Debra Hampton, Ceasar Mitchell, Peter Aman and Al Bartell (Photo by Maria Saporta)
By Maggie Lee
A group of Atlanta’s and Georgia’s business and civic heavyweights have given out their scores on the dozens of folks running for city leadership this year. Five mayoral candidates got a rating of “excellent” from the Committee for a Better Atlanta.
Mayoral candidates Peter Aman, Cathy Woolard, Ceasar Mitchell, John Eaves and Kwanza Hall all finished at 90 points or higher.
Michael Sterling and Keisha Lance Bottoms scored 88 and 82 respectively. (Complete scores here.)
The CBA is a business coalition that aims, among other things, to formulate and articulate a business and civic agenda in the city. The scoring is one of those activities.
Morgan Doyle, who’s marketing manager at GDP Technologies, is one of the CBA members who collectively undertook about 1,000 hours of work interviewing candidates, scoring their written responses or deciding on overall scores.
“We talk about affordable housing, transportation … aspects of the city that affect not just business,” Doyle said.
Evaluators looked for a lot of things, including candidates’ familiarity with issues and their strategies and preparedness for dealing with those issues.
CBA has published the full set of written responses.
But candiate Mary Norwood — who’s leading in polls — did not participate.
Reached by text this afternoon, Norwood said the CBA is a great vehicle for candidates to become better known and that she’s participated in its interviews in previous election years but did decline this time.
“This year contributions had been made to mayoral candidates by committee members and I felt that made the process (I’m certain unintentionally) biased, so I declined to participate,” Norwood wrote. She said she’s sure her record is well-known.
Nor was candidate Vincent Fort scored.
Fort went to a candidate forum where he said an evaluation team was pointed out to him and that he was shocked that the team lacked diversity, that it was a team of older white males, he said. Fort also said he talked to CBA staff, but that any candidate has only limited time, energy and resources.
Fort said he is spending time talking “to regular people not special interests.”
He said he appreciates CBA and looks forward to working with the business community, not for the business community.
In the Council president race, CBA scored Alex Wan and Felicia Moore in the top tier, above 90 points. C.T. Martin got an 80.
In City Council races, many of the dozens of candidates either did not participate or were rated “not qualified.”
This spring, the CBA published an “aspirational statement” for city government signed by three dozen business and civic organizations.
It called on the new group of city leaders to keep up with policies that protect Atlanta’s future growth, vibrancy and sustainability. The statement calls on new leaders to do a lot of things, including partner with other jurisdictions to improve K-12 education and reduce homelessness, and make sure Atlantans have access to affordable housing.
The statement said the city should consider an internal audit of procurement, in light of bribery investigations at City Hall.
In 2013, when Mayor Kasim Reed was running for reelection, he got a CBA score of 99.
In 2009, the last time the mayoral race lacked an incumbent, CBA scored then-Council President Lisa Borders at 95, followed by the Reed at 93. Norwood at that time got a score of 86.