A rumor is being spread that Kyle’s support and endorsement of Mary Norwood for Mayor has been paid for either in cash or by the promise of a job. This is absolutely false. As Kyle writes:
In a democracy, we all have the right to support the candidates of our choice without fear of intimidation and attack. It’s unfortunate that my support and volunteer time donated to the candidate of my choice in the mayoral race has resulted in these slanderous accusations against me. But these attacks have only emboldened me to fight for the election of Mary Norwood as Mayor of Atlanta.
As I said, any idiot can smear, but it takes talent to win on merit. Whoever is behind this lacks that and more. Going after one of the most beloved and well-known Democratic activist in Georgia is a huge, huge FAIL.
NOVEMBER 12, 2009
STATEMENT ON THE PERSONAL ATTACKS AND WHISPER
CAMPAIGN AGAINST ME BY SUPPORTERS OF KASIM REED
Last night, several respected LGBT community leaders and allies contacted me concerning a rumor that is now being spread by supporters of Kasim Reed suggesting that my personal endorsement of Mary Norwood in the Atlanta mayoral contest was “bought and paid for” and that I have been promised a job in a Norwood Administration.
These accusations are complete lies intended to question my credibility and weaken my efforts to help elect Mary Norwood. Norwood is the only candidate in this race who is 100% pro-equality, who can bring about genuine change and who can restore the confidence of Atlantans in our city government.
First, I do not lend my support to candidates based on any financial arrangements. I never have and I never will. That’s sleazy and it’s what is wrong with politics. I have worked for campaigns in the past, most notably for 14 months as Deputy Finance Director on Jim Martin’s 2006 campaign for Georgia Lt. Governor. But I do not work on campaigns as a “general consultant” who adds little in the way of meaningful contributions to a campaign.
I invite anyone to download Mary Norwood’s disclosure reports. You will not find me in any expenditure reports now or in the future.
Second, I do not know Mary Norwood beyond her public record and the several group
meetings that I have had with her to voice concerns of Atlanta’s LGBT community – all but one of these meetings has taken place since I decided to support Norwood’s candidacy several weeks ago. Not only would I never have a conversation with a candidate to offer my support in exchange for a job, I have never had the opportunity to have a private conversation with Mary Norwood during any of our several group meetings.
The truth is, I actually have a personal relationship with Kasim Reed, where as I do not have one with Mary Norwood. As the former Political Director of Georgia Equality, I lobbied State Senator Kasim Reed on issues important to the LGBT community. As a member of the Georgia and Fulton County Democratic Party Committees, an active member of Atlanta Stonewall Democrats and an activist in Atlanta’s LGBT community, I have gone out of my way to help Reed build relationships with LGBT community leaders in Atlanta over the last few years.
I have done so because I believe it is important for elected officials and candidates to have the opportunity to build personal relationships with LGBT people from all walks of life and become more informed about the discrimination we face so as to encourage their support for equality, regardless of whether I end up supporting these individuals or not.
Accusations of pay to play politics and nepotism from the machine are laughable. Attacks on the personal supporters of Norwood by Reed supporters are divisive and reprehensible. It’s the machine at work with their dirty politics as usual and it’s got to stop. That’s why I’m compelled to stand up and speak out about why I am supporting Mary Norwood for Mayor of Atlanta.
I support Mary Norwood because she is a business owner with 8 years of experience on the Atlanta City Council. As an executive, Norwood knows how to balance books and manage staff to efficiently and effectively provide desired results. Norwood has solid financial and public safety proposals that will restore accountability to city government and make Atlanta work again for all of us (http://www.marynorwoodformayor.com). I do not believe that Reed’s experience as an attorney and a member of the Georgia General Assembly – representing a very small portion of the city of Atlanta in state government – makes him as well prepared as Norwood to be the executive of our city government.
I am very concerned about the fact that Reed is the hand picked successor of Mayor Shirley Franklin, whose administration has been defined by a lack of transparency, fiscal
mismanagement and questionable practices. I have a real problem with an elite group of
powerful interests selecting their preferred candidate for mayor and then attempting to bully voters into supporting that candidate. This machine is not conducive to democratic
government – it creates deep divisions among residents and a polarized government that fails to adequately serve Atlanta citizens.
In addition, it is unclear to me how a mayoral candidate who is supported by those who have failed our city is able to turn right around as mayor and buck those supporters to address our city’s problems. In politics, you dance with them that brung you, and in my opinion Reed has far too many questionable dance partners. This includes individuals and companies that have a stake in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, who make up roughly 20% of Reed’s campaign contributions. Liz Flowers, spokeswoman for former mayoral candidate and Council President Lisa Borders warned in a press release that this “should be a red flag for voters” (http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/airport-donors-flock-to-164341.html).
During this campaign, Lisa Borders also questioned Reed on his failure to sign a no
nepotism pledge: “Kasim Reed was paid more than a million dollars as a partner at the law firm Holland and Knight. Today, the firm benefits from a lobbying contract at the Atlanta airport and another lucrative contract for MARTA. Tracy Reed, Kasim Reed’s brother, works for the Mayor’s Office of Contract Compliance, where he oversees minority contracts at the airport. To date, Mr. Reed has received more campaign money from airport vendors than all of the other candidates in this election combined. Nineteen airport vendors who might owe their contracts to his brother Tracy have given money to Kasim Reed’s campaign.”
Finally, I have strong reservations about the center of progressive leadership and thought in Georgia electing a mayor who is less than 100% pro-equality. Norwood supports full marriage equality and has a progressive record on civil and human rights. Reed is opposed to marriage equality and cites religious reasons to deny LGBT Georgians full equality (http://www.projectqatlanta.com/news_articles/view/Mary_Norwood_says_she_backs_gay_marriage/).
Our current mayor – for all her faults – at least supports marriage equality. I am concerned about the political implications for LGBT and progressive Atlantans – and Georgians – in taking a step backwards from a mayor who is pro-equality to one who is fairminded and the message that sends to current elected officials, candidates, our opponents and our youth who are struggling to find acceptance.
While I like Kasim Reed on a personal level and appreciate his record in the Georgia
General Assembly, when forced to choose between Norwood and Reed in the race for
mayor of Atlanta the choice is clear for me. The overwhelming support for Mary Norwood within Atlanta’s LGBT community, as evidenced by hundreds of supporters and attendees of the upcoming LGBT community rally for Norwood, suggests to me that I’m not alone:
Kyle R. Bailey
Fulton County Democratic Party, Post Seat Holder*
Democratic Party of Georgia, State Committee Member*
National Stonewall Democrats, former COO and Interim Executive Director*
Georgia Equality, former Political Director*
Atlanta Stonewall Democrats, Founder and former Chairperson*
*Positions listed for identification purposes only.