ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- After weeks of rumors about an upcoming announcement, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed confirmed to CBS46 Wednesday that he has filed initial paperwork to begin campaigning for a third term as mayor.
In recent weeks, Reed has become more vocal about the need to tackle crime in Atlanta, emphasizing that he would handle things differently than the current city leaders.
Political strategist David Johnson weighed in on Reed’s steps toward a return to City Hall.
“He’s been hinting at it for months,” said Johnson, the CEO of Strategic Vision PR. “He’s been slamming Keisha Lance Bottoms indirectly. He said in an earlier interview if he were mayor, he could turn the crime problem around in 180 days. So, when she announced she was not seeking re-election, it almost became automatic. Everybody knew he was going to run. ”
Johnson says Reed will likely pick up early support in polls because of widespread name recognition “He’s got universal name recognition. Most people recognize him right away.”
Reed served his first two terms from 2010 to 2018 before leaving officer under term limits. He previously served in Georgia's State House and Senate. He will be the first Mayor since Maynard Jackson to seek a third term in office.
Reed left the mayor's office mired in controversy as a federal corruption and bribery investigation took over City Hall and brought down some of Reed’s top executives and cabinet officials.
With a wave of new residents in the city since Reed’s last term, there will be both high and low points for voters to consider.
“He was a very successful Mayor, if you look overall,” Johnson said, citing that the Mercedez-Benz Stadium was built during Reed's tenure, the State Farm Arena was rebranded as such, and The Atlanta Beltline took off during his time in office.
“Economic development, Atlanta was a boom city under him and crime was lower under Kasim Reed,” Johnson said adding that Reed worked well with Republican led State Legislature and Governor Deal at the time.
“The problems that are gong to hurt him are the corruption investigations; the contracts to his brother, the former officials that have been indicted and the lingering federal investigation,” Johnson said.
CBS46’s Hayley Mason reached out to former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin to hear her thoughts on the race. Franklin was previously a strong supporter of Reed's, but now expresses disappointment in his leadership.
Former Mayor Franklin told Mason, she hasn’t had access to the latest polls on the top candidates so far, and hasn’t watched the recent programs with candidates, but she did express disappointment in Reed.
“I supported the former Mayor in 2009, but I am very disappointed by the results (indictments, convictions, and pending cases) of the federal investigation of his administration. Frankly, I am embarrassed by his lack of ethical leadership during his prior term in office,” Franklin stated.
Throughout the day, the focus on Reed’s corruption scandal became the central argument from his opponents in the race for mayor.
City Council President and Mayoral Candiate Felicia Moore wrote in a statement to CBS46 in part that, “I’m running for mayor because I believe we deserve more. Together we can create an Atlanta where every neighborhood is safe and end years of corruption. I’ve been fighting for transparency, ethics and accountability at city hall. I’m ready to address these critical issues on day one and move Atlanta into the future.”
Mayoral Candidate and City Councilman Andre Dickens wrote, "I sponsored and passed the toughest anti-corruption legislation in Atlanta's history, banning credit card spending on things like alcohol, airfare, dry cleaning and personal vehicle repairs. This was needed because of the rampant abuses in the former mayor's administration. Corruption is Crime. When I meet with everyday Atlantans working to make our city better, what I hear is that people are ready to move forward and want to turn the page on that corrupt past."
Thursday, Reed will host an A-list birthday celebration which will double as a fundraising kick-off for his campaign. An invitation flyer says the event is sponsored by “Kasim Reed for Atlanta, Inc.” Donation tiers range from $1,000 per guest to $25,000. The event will have music by celebrity disc jockey DJ D-Nice.
“It’s going to be a major fundraiser for his campaign to kick it off. Money is how you get elected this day and age,” Johnson said. “It’s going to raise money. It’s going to propel the forefront of the race.”
Mason asked Johnson if Reed will have to rebrand in order to separate from the troubles of his prior terms at City Hall.
“I don’t see him rebranding,” Johnson said. “He’s always been Kasim Reed. Take me or leave me; this is who I am. And, he feels he can ride into office promising to solve the crime problem.”
With Reed being the most popular name in the race so far, Johnson says the race at this early stage is “Kasim Reed vs. the candidate pool.” Prospective candidates have until August to declare a mayoral run.