People in the News

Published on May 11th, 2016 |


Former Mayor Massell assesses candidates for the job in 2017 race

Seasoned politician and diplomat Sam Massell this week gave a gathering of his contemporaries a preview of upcoming candidates for Atlanta mayor. But his biggest announcement at the May 10th Buckhead 50 Club meeting was that he “will not be a candidate for mayor this time.”

Buckhead Coalition President and former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell addressed the Buckhead 50 Club on May 10.

Buckhead Coalition President and former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell addressed the Buckhead 50 Club on May 10. All photos courtesy of John Sands of Team Cromwell Parkes.

Among those attending the meeting of the 84-year-old social and civic club—Buckhead’s first—were Dist. 7 Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook, Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris, former Fulton Commissioner Robb Pitts and former Atlanta City Councilman Doug Alexander.

Any one of those could throw their hat into the ring for the mayor’s race or another public office for next year’s city election. But Massell, the former Atlanta mayor, began with the assumption that Pitts would likely be a candidate for mayor.

Buckhead Coalition President Massell ran through a list of 11 declared or potential candidates to replace Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in 2017. He offered brief comments during the meeting on only a few, all of them Atlanta City Council members.

However, in a one-on-one conversation with BuckheadView following the meeting, Massell also talked about several others he expects to join the race. “One thing for sure, I can promise there will be a runoff,” Massell told BuckheadView.

During the Buckhead 50 meeting, Massell said, “Kwanza Hall is getting publicity and he’s a factor, I think. Council President Ceaser Mitchell is in my opinion, probably the front-runner right now,” Massell said, adding, “that will change tomorrow,” and many more times during the race.

Massell said Mitchell has his law offices in Buckhead with one of the major national firms (DLA Piper), which should give him an advantage in fundraising.

Massell had special praise for Buckhead resident and At-Large City Councilwoman Mary Norwood, calling her the “hardest-working council member I’ve ever known.”

Norwood previously ran for mayor against Reed and lost by a slim margin. She has not yet announced if she is a candidate for the office in 2017.

Sam Massell is shown speaking to the crowd of more that 50 at the Buckhead 50 Club meeting May 10.

Sam Massell speaking to the crowd at the Buckhead 50 Club meeting May 10.

Asked about Bain & Co. partner Peter Aman, who lives in Buckhead and recently announced as a candidate for mayor, Massell said, “He’s plenty smart and highly respected in the business community.”

Massell added that Aman, “did a good job for Mayors Shirley Franklin and Kasim Reed,” first as chief financial officer and then as chief operating officer of the city. The problem, he added: “He has zero name recognition citywide.”

Of the 11 candidates Massell counts on being in the race for mayor, he points out that they are very evenly divided between men and women, and black and white, although he admitted there are a couple of announced candidates he doesn’t know at all.

Announced candidate Kathy Woolard, who was a former City Council president, Massell described as “having her own following” but someone who has been out of the limelight in terms of politics for the past several years, which might not work in her favor.

On the other hand, Massell brought up Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is a very close friend and ally of Mayor Reed. “I can’t believe that Reed would let the election go by without being very involved,” Massell said.

Massell also pointed to two members of the Georgia Legislature, Sens. Vincent Fort and Margaret Kaiser as having dipped their toes in the water. Of Kaiser, Massell said he understands “she has

Massell speaks with one of the club members following his talk to the Buckhead 50 Club.

Massell speaks with one of the club members following his talk to the Buckhead 50 Club.

done a decent job in the Legislature, but has done so quietly.”

On the other hand, Sen. Fort is anything but quiet, although Massell said he has seemed to tone down his rhetoric recently.

BuckheadView asked Massell what the possibility was that former Ga. House Dist. 54 Rep. Edward Lindsey might consider running for mayor.

Massell said Lindsey “would be a formidable candidate…extremely articulate, and has strong Republican Party support.” But the city elections are non-partisan. Massell said he had just welcomed Lindsey into the Buckhead Rotary Club as a new member earlier in the week.

In case you are wondering, Massell did not divulge his favorite among the announced and potential candidates and did not predict the ultimate winner.

On one last political note, Massell did point out that Dist. 6 Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan, who now represents a section of southeast Buckhead, “also seems to be generating a lot more public notice,” which is usually an indicator of a new election bid—in his case for City Council president, possibly running against Councilman C.T. Martin.

Believe it or not, politics and the upcoming mayor’s race were not the main topics of Massell’s address to attendees of the meeting, almost all of whom were into and beyond their 60s.

Massell was primarily pitching his new forecast for Buckhead’s future and urging residents to embrace the new wave of millennials who are moving into the community’s new apartments, working

and playing in the community.

“As homeowners, as individuals, what I’m saying is, don’t see [the new renters] as second-class citizens,” said Massell.

With maybe 25,000 young renters coming to Buckhead, Massell advised the club members, “Don’t fight it. Don’t think you can avoid it.” Instead, he said Buckhead’s older homeowners should welcome the new generation’s “profile of power” as future leaders.

It is a strong message Massell first delivered last month to the Buckhead Business Association, which BuckheadView reported on at that time. To read that story, click here.



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3 Responses to Former Mayor Massell assesses candidates for the job in 2017 race

  1. Lee May is the Interim CEO of DeKalb County, not a Fulton County Commissioner. I do not believe that he lives in the City of Atlanta at this time, which would certainly disqualify him from a mayoral bid.

  2. Aaron Brown says:

    Keisha Lance Bottoms

    “very close friend and ally of Mayor Reed.”

    Is that what they call it these days?

  3. Bartell says:

    Al Bartell is also running for mayor.

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