By Amanda Rowell

Atlantans will be heading to the polls on Nov. 3 to pick a new mayor and vote on candidates vying for the city council. During October, you’ll have a chance to get up close and ask questions of the candidates at a number of upcoming forums sponsored by local organizations.

•Neighborhood Planning Unit F, which includes Virginia Highland, will sponsor a candidate forum for City Council District 6 in the Inman Middle School Auditorium, 774 Virginia Ave., on Thursday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m.

•Lisa Borders, Mary Norwod, Kasim Reed and Jesse Spikes will participate in an Arts and Culture Mayoral Forum on Monday, Oct. 12, from 6 until 8 p.m.  This forum will take place in the Rich Auditorium of the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St.

•The Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church, 1660 N. Decatur Road, will host a City of Atlanta Mayoral Forum on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.

The Top Mayoral Candidates

Lisa Borders obtained her bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a Masters of Science in Health Administration from the University of Colorado.  She currently serves as Atlanta’s City Council President, where she has made it her mission to promote such efforts as increasing the availability of affordable housing in town and researching possible transportation solutions to Atlanta’s growing traffic problems.  She supports decreased non-essential government spending, an increase in the number of city public safety personnel, and pursuit of the “10 Year Blueprint to End Homelessness.”

Kyle Keyser entered the race at the deadline, but did so with citywide name recognition as founder of Atlantans Together Against Crime (ATAC), after becoming a victim of crime himself and the murder of a bartender at The Standard.  ATAC has held rallies around the city calling for more police protection and programs around the city on crime prevention. ATAC now has more than 10,000 members. The openly gay filmmaker and video producer has lived in Atlanta for nine years.

City Councilwoman Mary Norwood began her political career as a highly successful community activist before moving on to the city council to confront such issues as public safety, transportation, and various aspects of community development.  If she is elected mayor, Norwood plans to increase Atlanta’s police force by at least 10 percent and increase efforts to repair the city’s monetary base through more independent outside audits and clarity in financial records.

Kasim Reed graduated from Atlanta’s Westwood High School (now Westlake High School) and went on to study law at Howard University in Washington D.C.  He was first elected to represent District 52 in the State Senate in 1998 and was re-elected in 2002.  Reed currently represents District 35 in the state Senate and is Georgia’s youngest Democratic State Senator. He supports plans to expand the MARTA transportation system and efforts to incorporate it into Atlanta’s surrounding regions, increased transparency in tax dollar spending, increasing the size of the city’s police force and alternative energy innovations.

Born the youngest of 13 children in Henry County, Jesse Spikes attended high school in New Hampshire and went on to achieve degrees from Dartmouth College, Oxford University (as a Rhodes Scholar) and Harvard Law School. After spending more than 30 years as a corporate lawyer, Spikes advocates increased fiscal responsibility through an independent Chief Financial Officer and quarterly audits of city finances, an increase in the number of Atlanta’s police and fire officers, and addressing the city’s unemployment problem by recruiting new jobs to Atlanta and encouraging start-up businesses run by residents.

Collin KelleyEditor

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.