By Maria Saporta
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, speaking to the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta Tuesday, got personal –talking about how becoming a family man had changed him.
In a moment of candor, the mayor admitted that at home he does not call the shots. For example, he said he wanted his daughter, Maria, to become a student in Atlanta’s public schools. But his wife was a student at the Pace Academy and went to the Suzuki school, a Montessori pre-school. So his daughter is going to the Suzuki School.
“My preference would be for her to go to a terrific public school in Atlanta,” the mayor emphasized before adding a closing sentence with a smile. “I lost the first match.”
When asked directly how becoming a family man had changed him, Reed answered: “It makes me more of a whole person.”
He then went on to say that he had been selfish during his ambition to become mayor of Atlanta. He was a state representative at 28, a state senator at 31 and a young partner at a law firm.
“It was a selfish life,” Reed said. “My wife and daughter just expanding me and made me far more thoughtful than I was before.”
He said it also has made him much more aware of the challenges facing women and girls in society.
Kiwanians also asked Reed about his future plans post mayor.
“I just got a huge bill from Suzuki,” he said. “I’m going to serve until 2018, and then I’m going to work in the private sector for a few years.”
He then said his wife – Sarah Elizabeth Langford Reed – could invoke veto rights over any future political ambition.
“I look forward to being able to afford a Porsche when I’m no longer mayor,” Reed said jokingly.
During much of his talk, Reed painted a picture of the Atlanta he would like to leave to his successor.
“I’ll be working to the last minute of the last day to make sure Atlanta is in the best financial health it’s been in for 40 years, that it’s the safest city it’s been in 40 years, that it has the biggest police force it has had in 40 years,” Reed said. The credit rating also is at AA+, and it may even reach the prestigious Triple A rating before he leaves office.
The mayor also said the state of the city’s infrastructure also would be better than it’s been in a long time. The administration has estimated that the city has a $900 million backlog in infrastructure improvements.
He pointed to the $250 million infrastructure bond that was approved by voters last year, to the water-sewer sales tax that was just renewed by voters, and the possibility of the greatest expansion of MARTA in the city in decades.
One of the biggest challenges facing the city is making sure it remains a place that’s affordable to all. He said he would all he could to make sure Atlanta does not become a San Francisco, and that issues of equity would be top on his list.
“Leadership matters,” Reed said. “Choices matter.”