By Maria Saporta
Mayoral candidate Mary Norwood has received a significant endorsement from State Rep. Margaret Kaiser, a Democrat who represents House District 59.
In a telephone interview late Wednesday afternoon, Kaiser said that her first inclination had been to remain neutral in the mayor’s race.
But as the race has entered its closing stretch, Kaiser felt it was important for Norwood to be recognized for her leadership style.
“It was time for more pro-active representation,” Kaiser said. “With Mary, I honestly believe she will be an open door, accessible elected official, and I just haven’t felt that with Sen. Reed.”
Kaiser, who has been in the state legislature for three years, said Reed has been part of a “tightly-knit group of people,” and that she has not part of that group. She also noted that Norwood had supported her in her campaign when Kaiser was running against a well-connected incumbent.
But that was not a factor in her endorsement of Norwood.
“It was a really tough personal decision because I respect my colleagues who are supporting Kasim,” Kaiser said. “I’m endorsing Mary as Margaret Kaiser who just happens to be a state representative.”
Kaiser said she does not know Reed well.
“I personally have not had much access to him,” she said. “I don’t feel he has reached out to me for support.”
In contrast, Norwood did reach out to Kaiser, not just during the campaign but as a city councilwoman interested in all parts of the city.
‘I think Mary will be a good mayor,” Kaiser said. “What Mary Norwood brings to the table is some change to what has been in place for the three years I’ve been in office. There’s a little bit of a click in politics.”
Kaiser said she has received some strong negative reaction to her support for Norwood.
“I have made a choice, and I want people to respect that choice,” she said. “Mary has reached out across every line in the city, and people have access to her.”
If Reed wins, Kaiser said she hopes he will be open to working with her on city issues despite her support for Norwood.
She also believes that if Norwood wins, the new mayor will welcome those who supported her opponent.
“What it came down to is who I think will represent change for the city of Atlanta,” Kaiser said. “I think Mary will be effective at the state level. And I feel like Mary will surround herself with good people.”
Up until now, Reed has received the endorsement of a host of elected officials and established city leaders, including former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.
Up until Kaiser, the only other current elected official to endorse Norwood has been State Rep. Ralph Long III.