All politics may be local, but Kasim Reed, mayor of the nation’s ninth-largest metropolitan district, knows that spreading the good word about his city and making nice with the federal government are essential. Since his inauguration as mayor of Atlanta January 4, 2010, Reed, has been a busy civic booster who has created a positive string of local initiatives that are being noticed outside Georgia.
His popularity in Hotlanta has been helped by Reed’s ability to bring money home, including $134 million from Washington D.C. That pleases voters but some municipal workers are not as happy about initiatives the mayor advocates. These include his desire to slash 130 city jobs, and police and firefighters do not like Reed’s pension plan proposal.
Former Mayor Shirley Franklin, for whom Reed worked as campaign manager, was a pothole-and-hard-hat mayor specializing in municipal issues. The boosterism that Reed pushes harks back to earlier Black mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young who wanted the world to see Atlanta grow.
Reed says that both approaches are possible and recently Reed told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his vision for the city. "Atlanta is not driven organically. Atlanta happened on purpose. Our city needs energy. You've got to be doing things that are interesting,” he said.
Reed, 41, has had a big victory and suffered a defeat for this dual approach. He was instrumental in convincing Porsche's headquaters to stay in the metropolitan area, and to expand its North American headquarters, which raises local income. The mayor, however, was unable to land the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but is optimistic about bringing a Super Bowl to the city.
Reed was previously a member of the Georgia General Assembly for 11 years and known as a consensus builder. The Howard University graduate displayed his organizational, and service-oriented, skills as an undergraduate. At Howard, Reed helped boost the school’s endowment by millions when he convinced the administration to institute a specific student fee. Reed is also a graduate of Howard University Law School.
(Photo: AP Photo/David Goldman)