I don’t know if Keisha Lance Bottoms has heard Tupac’s song “All Eyez On Me”, but if she hasn’t, it’s the perfect moniker for this present time in her tenure as Atlanta Mayor.
I’ll go ahead and get the critiques out of the way, but trust me, if Mayor Bottoms looked at my job performance I’m she’d have some notes for me as well.
In the wake of Rayshard Brooks’ killing, while Mayor Bottoms was rightfully swift in her actions to ensure the firing of the officer that shot him, her choosing to describe the community were he was killed as a “food desert” may have hit too hard for residents that were still reeling from the murder.
She was not totally wrong in her statement though. The University Avenue/Pryor Road area and some of the surrounding burrows like Pittsburgh, Mechanicsville, and Chosewood Park have limited food options after ten or eleven in the evening as many food establishments in the area close early. The consistently long line at the new Wendy’s where Rayshard was unfortunately gunned down corroborates that point.
Better word choice could have garnered her a little more respect in her role of oversight.
Also, after a shooting near the same Wendy’s that took the life of Secoriea Turner on July 4th, Keisha said, “We’re fighting the enemy within when we are shooting each other up in our streets. If you want people to take us seriously and you don’t want us to lose this movement, we can’t lose each other.”
The “If you want people to take us seriously…” part of the statement would insinuate we as black people need external approval before our lives are deemed valuable enough to not be taken by those that are supposed to he serving and protecting.
A good Communications Director/speech writer/-let’s run this by someone and see how it sounds before we say it out loud- person seems to be a need for her camp, but here again while the word play may not have been up to par, she was not totally wrong.
Her being right about the need for black people to stop killing each other is a discussion for another day though.
Those thoughts aside, I find it important now more than ever to honor the job Mayor Bottoms is doing.
Council member Antonio Brown, who is clearly on an early campaign of sorts for Mayor Bottoms’ seat, has said that she is spending too much time sitting for national interviews and not doing her job.
The sentiment that Mayor Bottoms is spending time doing these interviews as a campaign for Joe Biden’s Vice President seat has been echoed by other critics as well, including some community leaders.
While Mayor Bottoms has said she has no interest in campaigning for “a job I don’t have” as it relates to becoming Vice President, I can imagine that if Antonio Brown or any of her other critics were on Biden’s VP short list, they wouldn’t be necessarily ignoring the opportunity.
That aside, Keisha is the mayor of Atlanta. A city in the south that has the busiest airport in the world, and a city that has national influence.
One of the reasons Mayor Bottoms is on Joe Biden’s VP short list in the first place is because by her work in Atlanta, she has shown she can be an asset to his team.
She’s been successful in continuing the economic growth that has happened here within the last 5–10 years.
In speaking of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, when the state threatened to take ownership, Mayor Bottoms did not shy away from the fight. She was fierce in defense of the city maintaining control.
Hartsfield-Jackson is an integral piece of Atlanta’s economy and moving it’s oversight to the state would be a blow that would take the city years to recover from.
Mayor Bottoms being in the news as of late is of her own doing being or her performance, and not out of arrogance or self promotion as some would have us believe. Dealings like that of the airport and other decisions she has publicly been a part of have thrust her into the national spotlight because Atlanta’s influence is far reaching.
From this, one should expect that mayors and other city leaders across the country are looking to Keisha for leadership and are looking to hear from her on how she’s handling everything that’s happening in Atlanta.
Her police chief resigned.
Just days after she took up Barack Obama on the challenge to investigate extreme force by city police across the country, Rayshard Brooks was killed by extreme force before she could get a report back from the group she commissioned.
An eruption of violence has taken place at the Wendy’s where Rayshard was killed, including the aforementioned shooting death of Secoriea Turner over the 4th of July weekend.
But wait… There’s more.
Although Keisha’s response to COVID has been remarkable, even with her own efforts, she now has the virus herself as she’s battling with a Governor who is determined to keep the state open, and who has sued her and the city saying that she overstepped her legal authority in making masks mandatory.
Is looks like the inept white male Governor that shouldn’t even have his position in the first place is probably upset that the black female Mayor isn’t “staying in her place”.
Mayor Bottoms has been proactive about preventing COVID from the beginning with enforcing shelter in place measures, and recently making masks a requirement in the city, while Brian Kemp is taking a Trump administration “get used to COVID” response.
Instead of keeping the state on shutdown, which other Governor’s have had to do because of a national spike in COVID cases, Brian is looking at ways to increase hospital capacity, and is looking to open a field office for COVID beds at the Atlanta Convention Center. His stance on masks is that they should be strongly urged but not required, even with all the information we have about masks being a viable preventative measure against COVID.
So here Mayor Bottoms is trying to lead a city capital in a state where the Governor is clearly preparing for people to get sick and perhaps die.
Her response to Brian’s frivolous lawsuit? She’s “not concerned about that at all.”
As of now, Mayor Bottoms and Kemp are in mediation.
Keisha also has the support of many other mayors in Georgia who made masks mandatory in their cities with no repercussions from Brian Kemp.
Mayor Bottoms is also preceded by two mayoral administrations that were found to be tied up in corruption. She’s had some financial messes to clean up all while keeping her hands clean. Her work thus far has shaped up to be above board, and even if she didn’t have all the possible scrutiny she can stand, as far as we know she’s shown that doing dirty work doesn’t mean you have to be a dirty person.
Mayor Bottoms is also a wife and mother of four children of her own, aside from being the mother of almost half a million people in the city of Atlanta.
In addition, I can’t help but wonder if people are so ready to criticize Mayor Bottoms because she is a black woman, and we know how black women are treated in America.
Atlanta is a tough and imperfect city, and while Mayor Bottoms has had some major success with the airport, the city economy and the continued positioning of Atlanta becoming a major tech hub, there of course is still work to be done.
Atlanta has become the capital of income inequality, and though we’ve seen massive growth, particularly in the downtown area, the flip side is gentrification running rampant, and increased rents. Because city officials are so focused on growth, they have done a poor job of managing homelessness, which has been a major downside to the economic success of Atlanta.
Mayor Bottoms is the city leader, but she still can’t do any of her work alone. Running a successful city is a team effort and requires city and elected officials, and community leaders to work together and not campaign for a mayoral job they don’t have.
If Mayor Bottoms gets the opportunity to work for Joe Biden in any capacity, I’m sure she’ll be a person that fights for this country with the same humility and selflessness she has fought for Atlanta.
With recent news, I’m also sure that Antonio Brown was trying to divert attention to the mayor and away from his fraudulent activity. He has been indicted on multiple counts of fraud for allegedly lying on income applications to get loans and credit cards.
Perhaps he may want to rethink his statements on who isn’t doing their job.