I am looking forward to my appearance at a campaign event for mayoral candidate Peter Aman on Sunday, September 17, at 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Local Luna at 550 Amsterdam Avenue in Atlanta, and I hope to see you there. We will be discussing the Atlanta BeltLine and its future, with a particular focus on affordable housing policy, public transit, and zoning – all issues on which the city’s next mayor should take a leading role.
I am not endorsing any Atlanta mayoral candidate. As those of you who have followed the blogs on this website know, I have reached out to all of the candidates, letting them know that I hope they will read City on the Verge as part of their preparation for leading the city into the future, and I have offered them space on this website for them to write a blog in reaction to some of the issues raised in my book, which includes pretty much every issue imaginable – the BeltLine, affordable housing, development, transportation, inequity, racial issues, history, the environment, pollution, sustainability, public health, homelessness, religion, business, philanthropy, the role of the federal and state government, the criminal justice system, and of course politics.
I know they all received a copy of the book from Michael Halicki, CEO of Park Pride, because he thought it important enough to give it to them. Thus far, none have written a blog for this website, but that’s not too surprising, given how busy they all are. But Peter Aman has promised one will be forthcoming shortly.
I have tremendous respect for anyone who wants to become mayor of Atlanta, because it is one of the most challenging jobs I can imagine. I wrote about candidate Cathy Woolard in City on the Verge, because without her advocacy as a City Council member in its early grassroots days, the BeltLine would not exist today. She has my utmost respect. In the book, I also wrote about candidate Kwanza Hall, who took me on a tour of the troubled Bedford Pine neighborhood in the Old Fourth Ward, and created the “Year of Boulevard.” I also interviewed now-candidate Mary Norwood at length, and I quoted Ceasar Mitchell. And so on.
But among all the candidates, only Peter Aman reached out to me and wanted to pick my brain over a recent breakfast in Atlanta. (This picture of us was taken during that breakfast.) And he listened, although he didn’t necessarily agree with everything I had to say. I was impressed. Behind the scenes, Peter helped to run the administrations of mayors Shirley Franklin and Kaseem Reed. So when he asked me to speak at one of his campaign events, I agreed. Given the time, I would agree to appear at any event for any other mayoral candidate as well, but Peter clearly cares about Atlanta and the issues I raised, and I look forward to further conversations with him, including our next meeting on September 17.
I hope Peter will have had time by then to read all of City on the Verge, so that we can refer to appropriate passages. You folks in the audience will have a chance to pepper both me and the candidate with questions, and of course I hope you will purchase a copy of the book afterwards and let me inscribe it suitably.