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Group Of Candidates For Atlanta Mayor Say They’re Being Left Out Of The Debate

Candidates for Atlanta mayor (left to right) Glenn Wrightson, Roosevelt Searles III, Rebecca King, Kenny Hill, Mark Hammad,  Nolan English and Kirsten Dunn.
Candidates for Atlanta mayor (left to right) Glenn Wrightson, Roosevelt Searles III, Rebecca King, Kenny Hill, Mark Hammad, Nolan English and Kirsten Dunn.
Credit Emil Moffatt/WABE News

Recent Atlanta mayoral forums have featured only five of the 14 candidates for Atlanta mayor. Rebecca King is among those hopefuls who’s been on the outside looking in.

“That’s when I reached out to this group and said that we should stand together and speak up for each other,” King said.

King and several other candidates for mayor say they’re being excluded from mayoral forums and media coverage of the race. They came together in front of Atlanta City Hall on Thursday to air their grievances.

Organizations hosting the forums often use poll numbers to decide who’s asked to take part. Candidate Kenny Hill says it’s too early for that.

“Forty percent of the voters are undecided,” Hill said. “That tells us that there should not be a cutoff as to who is invited to speak and let their voices be heard.”

Others rely on fundraising totals. That’s problematic too, says candidate Mark Hammad.

“If you’re going based on fundraising, you’re excluding candidates and that’s a direct link with money in politics,” said Hammad. “And that’s what we’re trying to get out of here.”

Candidates Kirsten Dunn and Nolan English argue more voices should be included.

“Not the ones that are just politically charged that have the huge backing,” said Dunn. “You need to know about everybody.”

“When we have options and we know what our options — our true options — are, we can make some very informed decisions, which is very critical at this time,” said English.

All five of the top polling candidates in the mayoral race have city hall experience.  There’s former mayor Kasim Reed; city council president Felicia Moore; city council members Antonio Brown and Andre Dickens, and attorney Sharon Gay, who’s done work for the city.

Candidate Glenn Wrightson is among the hopefuls who hasn’t drawn a paycheck from the city.

“I think it’s important that the voters are able to hear from candidates that have not been on the city payroll,” said Wrightson.

Candidate Roosevelt Searles III says it’s a significant moment to see campaign rivals standing together.

“We are willing to put aside our differences and to come together as a team and do what’s right for the people,” said Searles.

Two other candidates for mayor, Richard Wright and Walter Reeves, say they also support the effort for more inclusion.