Atlanta May Elect 1st White Mayor in 36 Years

Frontrunner Mary Norwood vows to fix the city's accounting mess
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2009 9:43 AM CST
City of Atlanta mayoral candidate Mary Norwood.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) A simple focus on accounting is poised to radically—read: racially—change the politics of Atlanta. In a majority-black city that hasn’t had a white mayor in 36 years, a Caucasian city councilwoman from a tony neighborhood has a commanding lead in the polls. Mary Norwood has promised to clean up Atlanta’s notoriously bad books, and that goal appears to cross racial lines. “Citizens are looking at who they believe can lead the city forward,” a state pol tells the Los Angeles Times, “rather than their skin tone.”

Norwood has polled 45% overall in the city, and 34% with black voters. This is particularly surprising since her nearest opponent, who’s polling at 25% overall, has endorsements from Atlanta’s civil rights establishment and is Mayor Shirley Franklin’s former campaign manager. Franklin hasn’t endorsed anyone, but is explicit in her opposition to Norwood, who she says lacks “vision, integrity, and intelligence.” In a city frustrated by its government, perhaps that non-endorsement is the best endorsement of all.