A Major US City Could Soon Elect Its First Independent Mayor

Atlanta City Councilor Mary Norwood could be well on her way to becoming the city’s first independent mayor and one of the most prominent independent elected officials in the country on Tuesday.

According to a survey of likely Atlanta voters released by WSB-TV Friday, independent Councilwoman Mary Norwood held a 6-point lead over her opponent, Councilor Keisha Lance Bottoms, heading into the December 5 runoff.

Norwood has attracted support from across the political spectrum, including business and labor, firefighters and police, LGBT and African-American leaders, and prominent Atlanta citizens, chief among them former Mayor Shirley Franklin.

In fact, almost all of Norwood’s opponents from the November general election have endorsed her in the runoff, including Atlanta City Council President Ceaser Mitchell, former Council President Cathy Woolard, Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves, and former State Representative Margaret Kaiser.

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Mary Norwood for Mayor. Mary Norwood talks runoff debate prep with former opponents Council President Mitchell, former Council President Cathy Woolard, and former Atlanta COO Peter Aman.

Norwood filed to run for mayor in October 2016 and has run messages to #EndTheCorruption and #UniteAtlanta, making reference to the tumultuous administration of Mayor Kasim Reed.

Almost all of Norwood’s opponents from the November general election have endorsed her in the runoff.
Kyle Bailey

Reed, who defeated Norwood by 714 votes in the 2009 mayoral runoff election, has been plagued by scandal and his administration is under FBI investigation.

Reed, who has drawn comparisons with Donald Trump for his heated rhetoric during the campaign, including calling Norwood and Council President Mitchell “losers,” has endorsed Bottoms in Tuesday’s runoff.

No candidate received a majority in the November 7 Atlanta mayoral general election, setting up the December 5 runoff election between Norwood and Reed’s handpicked successor, Bottoms.

Independent leaders across the country have been following the Atlanta mayoral election in the hopes that a Norwood victory could be an indication of independent political wins in 2018 and beyond.

Norwood makes no apologies for her political independence in what is a traditionally Democratic city, reaffirming that she is a 'progressive independent.'

Groups like Maine Independents, Washington Independents, and The Centrist Project, which chapters across the country, are working to recruit historic numbers of credible independent candidates to run for public office in 2018.

The Democratic Party of Georgia, which holds no statewide elected offices in Georgia, hopes to hold the mayor’s office at all costs.

In recent weeks, the party has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on false attack ads that mischaracterize Norwood as a Republican and place her alongside photos of Donald Trump in literature that has been distributed in predominantly African-American neighborhoods.

Photo courtesy of Mary Norwood for Mayor and paid for by the Democratic Party of Georgia.

The Democratic Party deployed similar attacks in the 2009 mayoral runoff election. However, this time around the Norwood campaign seems better prepared to respond with credible messengers, many of whom supported Kasim Reed in 2009 and have expressed their disappointment in his administration.

Norwood makes no apologies for her political independence in what is a traditionally Democratic city, reaffirming that she is a “progressive independent.”

Polls open across Atlanta at 7 am and close at 8 pm on Tuesday, December 5.