Mary Norwood, during what she dubbed “her first speech, unofficially after losing” the Atlanta mayoral race, urged Buckhead residents to press the new administration on whether the neighborhood is getting its fair share of city-funded improvements and whether south Atlanta residents are paying enough in property taxes. She also expressed concern those comments could be taken out of context by people who called her “racist” during the campaign.

A spokesperson for new Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms later said Norwood’s comments “seemed designed to stoke division when we should focus on unity,” and that Bottoms will work to improve all neighborhoods in Atlanta.

Norwood, a former at-large city councilmember from Buckhead who lost the mayoral race to Keisha Lance Bottoms last month, was speaking at the Jan. 11 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting. Now a private citizen, she jokingly introduced herself to the group as “Mary Norwood, former a lot of things.”

“My first speech, unofficially after losing, is: I love Buckhead, I love the whole city. I represented the whole city,” Norwood said. “But Buckhead needs to be thoughtful about how we are truly an important part of this city, and for that, there should be just some fairness.”

Mary Norwood

That statement was received with an “amen” and other supportive remarks by members of the organization and others attending the meeting, where the official agenda was a legislative update from two Republican state representatives.

She prefaced her remarks by noting that a reporter was in attendance and said she would phrase her speech “appropriately.”

Norwood told the organization that it needs to pay attention to how much money Buckhead residents pay into the city versus how much city funding is spent improving the area.

“I think the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, with a new administration, needs to be very proactive about money in, money out,” she said.

“One thing y’all need to look at, guys, now that I’m not the mayor, is the three main funding sources,” she said, referring to the Renew Atlanta bond funds and the sales taxes funding MARTA and city transportation projects. “We need to be very thoughtful about supporting all these initiatives and where all that money is going.”

She also said some south Atlanta residents are not paying a proper amount in property taxes and said there are still plenty of affordable neighborhoods within the city.

“Of course, we’ve got the inequity whatever,” she said. “You’ve got a lot of issues with that. And a lot of issues with affordable housing. Well, let me tell you, ladies and gentleman, there are hundreds of neighborhoods in this town that are affordable. They just aren’t on the BeltLine.”

“There is no gentrification in a whole lot [of] these areas,” she added.

During her campaign, Norwood said she heard from supporters who are paying $50 in property taxes because their property assessments were never raised after the economy recovered from the 2008 Great Recession.

“It’s not all of the city south of us, but there are big swaths of the city south of us, where because of the crash and mortgage fraud and all that stuff, people are paying $50 to live in the city,” she said.

After the meeting, Norwood expressed concern her comments would taken out of context, similar to what she says happened with remarks she made at a Buckhead Young Republicans meeting in 2017 that became an issue in the mayoral race.

“I just wanted to say I know how much– there is a world, the same world that called me a racist for the past six weeks, that would like to say, ‘She went to Buckhead and she bitched about how Buckhead gets nothing,’ and they would like nothing more than to put that on every blog across the city,” Norwood said. “But what is true is, Buckhead really has been given some short shrift in the past year.”

She continued to say that comments she made at the Young Republicans meeting were taken out of context and used against her by Bottoms. In those comments, she accused her opponent in the 2009 mayoral race, former Mayor Kasim Reed, of coercing votes from people who lived outside of the city.

“They took the two words, ‘thugs’ and ‘felons,’ and said that that was the way that I referred to African Americans,” Norwood said. “The audio says I was trying help African Americans not be coerced and threatened by thugs, which is what happened in [2009]. It was absolutely, 180 degrees from what I said,” Norwood said.

Despite that, Norwood said she still received about the same amount of votes from African American residents in south Atlanta.

“They weren’t able to have the people that knew me be affected by the racial overtones,” she said.

Anne Torres, a spokesperson for Bottoms, provided a written statement in response to Norwood’s comments.

“Ms. Norwood’s comments are consistent with how she spoke and conducted herself on the campaign trail this past fall,” Torres wrote. “Her comments display a remarkable lack of understanding of the issues facing our city, and seemed designed to stoke division when we should focus on unity. Following her inauguration, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is moving forward with her progressive agenda focused on equity, affordability and mobility for all of Atlanta’s residents and neighborhoods.”

23 replies on “After mayoral loss, Norwood questions Buckhead’s share of city improvements”

  1. Not surprised to hear of “gerry meandering” lower property tax assessments to benefit certain areas of Atlanta, namely the Southside.

    Time to once again remind the Mayor and administration who their banker is, Buckhead.

    1. So you think that the taxes on a 990sqft home in a moderate to high crime area should be paying the same exact amount as a 3200sqft home or an 900sqft condo with a door man?

    2. Ironic how she spoke eloquently of not having her words taken out of context, yet you did. Buckhead is NOT Atlanta’s banker. Your inference that it carries Atlanta city proper is ridiculous. Do your homework. And, stop being divisive.

  2. As a former resident of Atlanta, I say that Norwood should be more positive and supportive. Buckhead is doing just fine. If you were concerned that your comments would be taken out of context, then why did you speak them or why not say what you truly intended to say?

  3. It is so nice to hear Mary continues to have such a strong passion for what is right in our great city. It’s so nice to hear her speak because she tells the truth for a better Atlanta.

    1. Kebab, what’s Norwood intention? Why is she going after citizens that are probably making minimum wage. If she wanted to win the election, then she should have found a way to embrace all. Reading through her comments, they appear to be divisive. We have enough divisiveness going on in the country and we don’t need it in Atlanta.

  4. No offense Mary Norwood, but there are a lot more expensive homes, even Million Dollar+ homes in Buckhead, as opposed to the “Southside”, where most homes are only ranging from 100-300k. I live in South Fulton and our property tax should’nt be the same as yours! Also, we are not paying $50 in taxes. The taxes are not that low, so I’m not sure why you would even make this “50 dollar remark”. You need to stop it. Maybe some elderly person who is on a homestead exemption is paying that, but not us “south side residents”. That’s fictitious.

  5. The 1st comment was partially correct. But the Mayor of Atlanta uses Buckhead as their personal bank. Need fat city fees and perks?..approve an apt complex in Buckhead. Campaign contributions?…approve a new bldg in Buckhead….need to pad the ne$t? how bout a city bond attached where Buckhead forgoes the tax revenue for 10 years…lets get creative..want a Swiss chalet to use anytime…spending sprees at Lenox? Why not…just get me that demolition permit….and if you want the golden ticket….sell me that city property cheap but not before you shut down that homeless shelter….then you will be set for life…..just watch what happen in the next month and Norwood will look like a prophet.

  6. Wow it amazes me how she can feel that Buckhead residents aren’t being treated fairly, when they are known to being the best part of Atlanta and having the best neighborhoods in Atlanta. I am so happy I didn’t vote for her this just shows her mind set. Instead of saying make the entire Atlanta better she only thinks of one portion. I have a question for Mary and the people of Buckhead would you leave your nice homes and move to Bankhead or another part of Atlanta that doesn’t look as great and where you can clearly see the difference in both of the neighborhoods? If so then start thinking about how you feel in the structure of the home and how much taxes you should be paying.

  7. Show me the person in Buckhead that would live in one of those $50 per year properties. Certainly none of my neighbors. Atlanta has been extremely successful and continues to grow wealthier. If there is such a misappropriation of city services, why hasn’t the wealth base left the city? It certainly happened in previous generations.

    I’m not sure why I’m in the minority of Republicans who see Mary for what she is: A neighborhood populist who is anti development. Want to know why we missed on useful rail stops? Why we are missing on bike lanes now? Leaders like this will continue to ensure Buckhead misses out on future city services and amenities.

  8. Mary Norwood is still being divisive no matter how she couches her words. If she really cares for the City, all of it, I would suggest she stop pitting north against south.#Oneatlanta

  9. Wieuca Road watch! The crumbling, pot holed, third-world road conditions that former Mayor Reed said would be repaired and resurfaced. In the past week or so, the cone over the widening sinkhole was covered with a steel plate. That’s all.

    The condition of Wiecua road is a symbol of the blatant “screw you, Buckhead, pay for your own services because we’re diverting all the tax money you pay in elsewhere” divisiveness by the City of Atlanta.

    Mary is right.

  10. There are streets in Buckhead with big holes and last night passed one with big hunks all around the hole. This is one of the things that should be fixed.

  11. Oh the horror of it all! Buckhead is fast becoming a ghetto. Mary…no one has to twist your words nor take them out of context. The verbatim account is not good. Property taxes are based on assessments. You are again trying to trigger those poor property owners on the north side. They feel victimized paying their unfair share while the people on the south side get by with 50.00 tax bills. If any property tax down there is 50.00, you can believe an investor owns it no doubt living somewhere up north. Thank goodness you lost. I suspected this was the real you. No one called you racist. We just pointed out your own verbiage. If you made you appear racist it was your own doing.

  12. Meanwhile, Buckhead is getting a $250,000 floating park in the sky for fun.

    Girl, bye and have all the seats. She doesn’t even try to couch her racism and desire to control and exploit as anything but exactly what it is.

  13. Buckhead residents are complaining and in an uproar about potholes? Give me a break! Driven down any Southside streets lately? Been to a park on that side of town. Frequented any amenities in the area? If you had, then you would know that the Southside is lacking in every direction you turn.! What do you think you are missing out on? Whatever it is, it’s definitely not being received on the Southside! Mary, being Mary. And it’s amazing that people are still falling for her shenanigans. You can have her Buckhead. The City of Atlanta doesn’t want her!

  14. It’s sad Mary is tarnishing what little is left of her reputation. it must really hurt you got beat, not once, but twice by a more qualified black person. Bye Felicia.

  15. Reading these comments , this is why she lost SEVERAL times she is BITTER and trying to divide ppl and its working. If someone is paying that much in taxes the house is under 900sqft and its a rental or an elderly person on fixed income and its probably in need of several repairs. You got ppl complaining about pot holes it is bad streets in EVERY part of the city been that way since Shirley

  16. Sounds like payback for perceived non-support from the Southside that she feels she is due. I was pretty neutral about her before, but now, sounds like a vindictive, pay-back kind of, bait and switch kind of person. Glad she did not become Mayor. We don’t need another hateful acting person in office. We are all full up at the White House, enough for the whole country.

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