Many an improv troupe has pulled an audience member down to the stage at Dad’s Garage theater. But a week and a day before Atlanta city elections, it was nine mayoral candidates placed on the stage there to answer unconventional questions.
Days ahead of the start of early voting in Atlanta, top mayoral candidates are looking not just at the issues, but are going on the attack a bit in their bids to get into — and win — a runoff that’s all but certain to come.
Last year, Atlanta voters approved new sales taxes to pay for transportation and transit builds. This year, mayoral candidates are talking about what they would do in a city that’s raising cash, is predicting a lot of new residents and that aims to attract big employers.
The organizers of an Atlanta mayoral candidate forum on green space Thursday night had to move their event to a bigger auditorium — their first venue couldn’t hold everyone who wanted to know more about what candidates propose for the city’s trees, watersheds and parks.
Atlanta City Councilmember H. Lamar Willis said Friday that former Mayor Shirley Franklin, former council President Cathy Woolard and candidate Andre Dickens are hypocrites for saying that Willis is ethically unfit for public office.
Willis made his remarks on the steps of Atlanta City Hall. Willis, who is seeking his fourth term, said he is a human being who has sought to atone for missteps in his personal life, wants the campaign to focus on governance issues, and is pushing back against the two former elected officials.
Willis raised these ethical issues about his accusers: Franklin provided haven in her home to her daughter and her then-son-in-law, who’s now serving a life sentence for his role in smuggling more than a ton of cocaine in a transcontinental operation; Woolard stopped working for Atlanta half way through her term in order to focus on her (unsuccessful) campaign for Congress; Dickens was a resident of Rex, not Atlanta, when he filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and evidently moved there in order to avoid tapping his wife’s assets to pay his creditors.
Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard said Tuesday that Councilmember H. Lamar Willis is unfit for public office because of his ethical misconduct and should be replaced by challenger Andre Dickens.
Franklin and Woolard, who passed strict ethics legislation in 2002, made their comments at an endorsement event for Dickens, a first-time candidate who seeks to unseat Willis from a citywide post in the Nov. 5 election.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed remains a major backer of Willis, who on Oct. 7 was disbarred from the practice of law by the Georgia Supreme Court for ethical breaches. Recent telephone polls reportedly have tested Franklin’s popularity, an indication that the sitting mayor who backed candidate Reed in the heated three-way 2009 mayoral campaign may come under attack for her involvement in this 2013 citywide council race.