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Norwood, Watson facing off for Post 2 at-large seat
by Everett Catts
October 23, 2013 12:25 PM | 2372 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mary Norwood
Mary Norwood
Aaron Watson
Aaron Watson
Editor’s note: Mary Norwood faces incumbent Aaron Watson for the Atlanta City Council Post 2 at-large seat in the Nov. 5 nonpartisan election. The position is citywide. Below are profile articles on each candidate, listed alphabetically.


Mary Norwood wants her old seat back.

Norwood, who vacated the Post 2 at-large position on the Atlanta City Council four years ago to run for mayor, is seeking the same spot again. The 61-year-old held the Post 2 at-large seat for two terms before losing to Kasim Reed in a runoff in 2009. She had previously served on the Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Unit A and B boards before first being elected in 2001.

In 2010 she unsuccessfully tried to run for Fulton County Commission District 1 (chair) seat as an independent, but missed a qualifying deadline and her appeals to the Fulton County Elections Board and a Superior Court judge were denied. Ironically, Norwood served on the elections board until August, when she resigned to run for city council.

Norwood said she is running for office again because “I am very concerned about public safety in the city.”

“The numbers seem to show that crime is coming down, but when I’m traveling through the city, the random crime is alarming,” she said last week. “It’s causing apprehension and concern and anger with neighborhoods throughout the city. In the past 24 hours there was the [shooting] incident at Fellini’s [Pizza in Buckhead] and the [robbery] incident at 9th [Street] and Argonne [Avenue] in Midtown. That is alarming. The fact that we’ve hired more police is good, but my concern is and what I will work on is analyzing what’s going on.

“How are we deploying the men and women? How many people do we have on the beat? And whether or not we are retaining our mature officers. What I’m hearing is we’re hiring and training these officers, and it costs $85,000 to do that, and if they’re leaving us for other departments, that’s a problem. The  numbers at the top level seem to be we are fully staffed, but I’m concerned about the operational aspects of it.”

Norwood also said she is running to help define how to redevelop the city.

“We have parts of the city that have seen no development, parts that have seen a lot of development, and that is going to continue,” she said. “I want us to develop in an ecologically friendly sustainable manner. … I want to look at our land-use policies so they’re for optimal development all over the city. … If elected, I would work with professionals in the development community in the city to tweak the rules where appropriate.”

Norwood, who owns a communications company, Norwood Communications, has a bachelor’s degree in history from Emory University. She and her husband Felton have two adult children: Palmer and Dorsey.

She has received endorsements from retired Fulton County Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington, the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department — IAFF Local 134, the Atlanta PACE Union and the Atlanta Police Department — IBPO Local 623. Norwood has been rated “well qualified” by the Committee for a Better Atlanta and “favorable” by Georgia Equality.

Norwood said she is the best choice for the post “because I have the energy, the enthusiasm, the commitment and the time to do this job well.”

“I was a hands-on, visible responsive councilperson for eight years and if re-elected, I will do that again,” she said. “I handled both legislative issues and constituent issues. I had the reputation for being the voice of the citizens all over the city all the time. I will put our people above politics.”

Norwood’s top three issues are public safety, quality of life/development and transportation.

“I am delighted to see the Video Integration Center where we have cameras where police can monitor activities,” she said. “We need people to be safe everywhere. I lobbied for surveillance cameras when I got on the council in 2002.

“The second issue truly is the redevelopment of the city. It’s very important. I was just at the South Atlanta Civic League for a citywide forum. We have neighborhoods in all these parts of the city that are truly the next neighborhoods to have redevelopment. We look at Kirkwood, which has had its commercial area redeveloped. You look at South Atlanta, and there are tremendous opportunities to develop. Then you have the north side, which has seen a lot of development. We need to make sure future development works in concert so we can have the continued vibrancy and quality of life.

“We need to deal with traffic. … We heed to deal with the traffic we are experiencing. All those different ways to make Buckhead continue to grow and continue to attract new businesses and residents.”



Aaron Watson is seeking a second term on the Atlanta City Council to continue the work he has started.

“In 2009, I sought the Post 2 at-large seat on the Atlanta City Council because the Great Recession highlighted deficiencies in our city’s governance,” the 57-year-old said in an email. “Upon arriving at City Hall, I focused on and have built my office on the theme of people, places and prosperity, through my Live Smarter Live Better initiative. It is why I support initiatives such as the Centers of Hope that provide a safe afterschool environment for youth. It is why I continue to advocate for the arts, green spaces, trails and community gardens.

“Over the past four years, I have worked with Mayor [Kasim] Reed and my council colleagues to bolster the city’s finances and improve its reputation as a place to live, work and play. From all four quadrants of the city, I hear from residents who are proud of what we have accomplished in this first term, and I am running for re-election because we have much more to do. It has been a pleasure to serve the citizens of this great city.”

Watson, who served on the Atlanta Board of Education from 1994 to 2001, including president for five of those years, also was a member of the Atlanta general fund pension board of trustees, the Atlanta Development Authority board and the Atlanta Housing Authority before being elected to the council.

Watson, who has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Notre Dame University and a law degree from Duke University, is a corporate attorney for Barnes and Thornburg, a national law firm with its Atlanta office in Buckhead. He pointed to his voting record on key issues as a strength.

“In my first term, I have been committed to working hard to do what is best for all Atlantans,” he said. “I have made smart, courageous decisions about issues that matters regarding our government and our city’s quality of life. I was a co-sponsor of legislation that overhauled our $1.4 billion pension liability that is saving taxpayers $20 million annually.

“I supported measures that reduced our operating budget by more than $100 million. I will continue to be a good steward of our taxpayer dollars, provide strong leadership and fight to make our government more open and effective.”

Watson said he has been endorsed by the North Georgia Labor Council, the Georgia Stonewall Democrats and the Red Clay Democrats, and was rated “favorable” by Georgia Equality and “excellent” by the Committee for a Better Atlanta. He and his wife Sandra live in Morningside and have three adult children: Andrew, Jennifer and Jana.

He said his top three issues are public safety, “improving transportation and expanding economic opportunity.”

Public Safety: “During my first term, the city has made tremendous progress in making our city safe,” he said. “We have hired 800 police officers, bringing the force to nearly 2,000. Crime is at historically low rates. We have more work to do to continue making our city safer. This includes working in concert with our residents, local businesses and our public schools to tackle crime and the perception of crime.”

Transportation: “Improving transportation will remain a priority for me. I supported funding of the Atlanta Streetcar and more bike lanes to provide more transportation alternatives. I will continue to prioritize transportation improvements for our community including synchronization of traffic lights and more sidewalks.”

Economic opportunity: “Expanding economic opportunity must continue to be a focus for us to drive high-quality jobs to the city. Through the city’s economic development arm, Invest Atlanta, we have helped attract Porsche North America and Pulte Homes to Atlanta, bringing more high-quality jobs and millions of dollars in economic development. I will also continue to work with small businesses to help them expand and invest in our city.”


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