Political Insider

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Business heavyweights weigh in on Atlanta's crowded mayor race

A prominent business coalition released ratings Monday on Atlanta’s mayor race, giving high marks to a quintet of candidates and solid reviews for two others in the crowded and volatile race.

It was just as notable for who was left out: City Councilwoman Mary Norwood, who is leading in the polls and did not participate in the coalition's vetting process.

The scores were published Monday by the Committee for a Better Atlanta, a group of more than 40 companies, civic institutions and business organizations that has vetted candidates in every city election since 1996.

For this contest, the committee coordinated forums, pored through in-person questionnaires and conducted in-person interviews. Though they are not endorsements, the ratings are likely to be heavily promoted by the candidates who scored highly – and ignored by those who didn’t.

The highest score went to Peter Aman, the former Atlanta chief operating officer who is among the leading contenders for the Nov. 7 race. Polls show he and a trio of other contenders in a tight race for a spot in the December runoff against Norwood, who has held double-digit leads over her nearest rival.

Also nabbing “excellent” ratings were former City Council President Cathy Woolard, current City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, ex-Fulton County chair John Eaves and City Councilman Kwanza Hall.

Former city official Michael Sterling and Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms both earned “well qualified” reviews.

Four little-known candidates each were judged as unqualified by the business group. And two others – Norwood and former state Sen. Vincent Fort – did not participate.

Fort’s decision was not surprising, given that he has run as a Bernie Sanders-style populist who rails against the greed of corporate tycoons. But Norwood has enjoyed support from the state’s business leaders, including many who have donated to her campaign.

The candidates were surveyed on a range of questions, including plans to ensure public safety, ease traffic gridlock and narrow the income inequality gap. They were also asked their plans to protect against corruption and “pay to play” practices – an issue that’s clouded the race amid a federal probe.

You can find the candidates' answers to the questionnaires here.

Dozens of candidates for City Council races also were rated. In the three-way race between a trio of councilmembers for Council President, Alex Wan and Felicia Moore both got “excellent” marks while C.T. Martin was rated as “well-qualified.”

More: Atlanta mayor’s race: A wide-open contest that will shape the region

See a snapshot of the ratings below:

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.