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What Can Atlanta Do To Help Businesses Post-Pandemic? 5 Candidates For Mayor Weigh In

Atlanta mayoral candidates, from left, Felicia Moore, Andre Dickens, Sharon Gay, Antonio Brown and Walter Reeves take part in a forum Tuesday.
Atlanta mayoral candidates, from left, Felicia Moore, Andre Dickens, Sharon Gay, Antonio Brown and Walter Reeves take part in a forum Tuesday.
Credit Emil Moffatt / WABE

In a sign that things are returning to normal, five candidates who’ve announced they are running for Atlanta mayor attended a forum Tuesday and sat fairly close to one another at a long table.

The event was held before a small audience at The Gathering Spot. It was organized by The Committee for a Better Atlanta, a business and civic coalition.

The candidates fielded questions about the city’s crime rate and government transparency. They were also asked about the city’s role in the economic recovery coming out of the pandemic.

Current City Council President Felicia Moore says federal recovery dollars can be a lifeline for Atlanta businesses.

“We find ways, particularly with the federal funding we’re having, to really get and help those most vulnerable, those that were hit hardest, through the pandemic,” said Moore.

Antonio Brown says he wants to continue the work he’s been doing on City Council to make sure entrepreneurs can thrive in Atlanta.

“We have to continue to pool funds so that we can build programs for startup small businesses in this city and ensure that no business is left behind,” Brown said.

Attorney Sharon Gay says she’d follow in the footsteps of former Mayor Shirley Franklin and establish a strong bond between businesses and the city.

“Invite the business community and our business and civic leadership to be a part of the city government, to be part of solutions, to be part of recruiting terrific talent to work in city government,” said Gay.

City Councilman Andre Dickens says inequality should be top of mind in any discussion of recovery.

“The southeast and southwest sides of our city need to have job centers, grocery stores, amenities,” said Dickens. “This is how we overcome this generational wealth gap that we have.”

Another way to spur the state’s economy that saw some progress at the Georgia Capitol this year was the potential of expanded gambling. But candidate Walter Reeves, self-described legal scholar and blue-collar worker, says that’s not the type of growth he wants.

“What we definitely do not need in Atlanta, Georgia, is gambling interests,” said Reeves. “It’s not welcome here; it’s very sleazy, and it corrupts blue-collar people.”

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has announced she won’t seek a second term in office. Election Day is Nov. 2