Councilwoman Felicia Moore and Councilman Alex Wan met twice yesterday to discuss their respective candidacies for City Council President. Although they have been civil, there was some tension between the candidates during two separate conversations yesterday. First, the duo sat down at a Leadership Breakfast with the Center for Civic Innovation. On many points, it seemed the two candidates agreed. Even where the candidates disagreed, they kept the conversation balanced and respectful.
When asked if she felt Councilman Wan was someone she could count on during her time in City Council to advocate for particular issues transparency and the budget, Councilwoman Moore noted that she felt overall he was right on the issues but that sometimes he did not follow through. While he somewhat disagreed with her characterization, overall the conversation was non-combative and forward moving.
However, by their debate on Rashad Richey’s show “Real Talk,” things took a bit of a turn. A caller raised issues with a mailer sent out by Councilman Wan’s campaign and veracity of statements concerning Councilwoman Moore’s voting record as compared to his own on issues including transparency, ethics, and balanced budgets. Despite Councilman Wan’s insistence that the mailer was accurate and straightforward, the caller took issue with Councilwoman Moore’s “no” votes mischaracterized as being against particular issues and values overall. Furthermore, the mailer brands Councilman Wan as trustworthy, insinuating that Councilwoman Moore is not.
Asked on the spot about the mailer and its validity, Councilwoman Moore recalled several of the votes denoted as “proof.” Addressing her votes off the cuff, Councilwoman Moore noted some confusion with some of the references mentioned. Upon further explanation from Councilman Wan as to what he was referring to in the mailer, she clarified her positions. Even when he kept trying to cut her off, she held steady in her resolve. She gave him a gentle rebuking before continuing her defense. Councilwoman Moore explained that she had principled reasons for not supporting budgets in the past as well as for some of her allegedly “wrong’ votes. Although not present on the physical mailer sent to voters, a version on his website contains citations for the votes, but there is no context.
Both members of council have addressed the lack of transparency in the City’s spending. Councilwoman Moore distinguished herself from her opponent by stating that she has issues with trust in the numbers. This exchange was interesting in the context of her comments earlier in the day at the Leadership Breakfast regarding Councilman Wan going along with the “yes” vote even after questioning the pending matter.
Also, Councilwoman Moore relayed that there were issues characterized on the mailer as her being against them when in fact they were things she had been fighting for and had, in fact, voted in favor. Even in challenging Councilman Wan, she remained calm and focused on providing accurate information to the listeners.
It is disappointing that Councilman Wan’s campaign has decided to use that on-the-spot moment to claim Councilwoman Moore has issues with memory or explaining her choices when that could not be farther from what happened during their exchange. Following Councilwoman Moore’s lead in 2014, Councilman Wan was one of a few members of the council who were open to crafting better open government policies. Considering the two conversations in context provides a broader picture of the two candidates along with their honesty and openness, even while trying to win. One thing is clear; Councilwoman Moore has been consistent when asking questions, demanding answers, and casting votes as a member of City Council.
Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time. – Shirley Chisholm
Councilwoman Moore acts with service in mind. Her sincerity and ability to engage across issues and communities speak for itself. While Councilman Wan notes he has been able to canvass and get to know other communities around the city, he shows a lack of understanding of some community concerns with remarks like “I may not have been at community cookouts.” His statements regarding others being combative, when directly contrasting himself with his opponent is laden with the language used to silence and shut down Black women.
While not specifically directed at his opponent, his tendency toward respectability politics is disconcerting. After listening to a caller during “Real Talk” express hope, he claimed to have revised his opinion of Black Lives Matter. His revelation along with his earlier misunderstanding of the conversation regarding representation and displacement of Black residents suggests a severe concern in his ability to represent all of Atlanta equally as City Council President.
Ever the diplomat, Councilwoman Moore responded that there were some concerns about decorum raised during a prior meeting. Noting the diversity of organizations people represent, Councilwoman Moore shared an example where she involved protestors to an “off campus” meeting to talk about going from protest to policy. Her response showed an understanding of the need to collaborate and engage those at the forefront of reform in the city.
As she noted, she did not recently learn or become aware of these issues she has lived them and experienced them through her service. While both candidates would make for good stewards of the city, Councilwoman Moore has a more precise grasp on the delicate balance of interests necessary to address the competing needs of different communities and constituency groups.
Councilman Wan’s reluctance to “fight for the sake of fighting” suggests a leader who will be good for parts of Atlanta but possibly reluctant to push for the change necessary to address the continued economic and opportunity gap around the city. Not wanting to be a fighter may sound good to those who seek appeasement and respectability in their political spaces. Even in bragging about his use of an “electronic newsletter” he fails to see the stark difference between his current constituency and many others in the city. Councilwoman Moore is a necessary counterbalance to whoever is elected Mayor.
Despite his insinuation earlier in the day during the Leadership Breakfast “minority representation” is not a one to one replacement for “Black representation.” Both are valuable and needed here in the city. With only two days left to vote it is vital that citizens show up to the polls and make themselves heard. The only endorsement that matters is the ones at the polls. Turnout is key.
Don’t forget! Grab a friend or family member and go to the polls.
Early voting ends Today December 1, 2017
The runoff election is on Tuesday, December 5, 2017.