The Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk-Young Debate Series continued its series of runoff debates for Mayor of Atlanta, Atlanta City Council President, and Atlanta City Council Post 3 At-Large on Tuesday night at Georgia Public Broadcasting. The moderator for the evening was Donna Lowry, Capitol correspondent for Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Lawmakers program. Questioning the candidates were J.D. Capelouto, the AJC’s Intown Atlanta journalist, and WSB-TV anchor Dave Huddleston.
Atlanta mayoral candidates Felicia Moore, who currently serves as president of the Atlanta City Council, and city councilman Andre Dickens traded sharp barbs, taking issue with the performance of each during their time in office, although both have worked hand-in- hand in the past on a number of critical issues.
Moore was asked by debate panelist Dave Huddleston of WSB-TV to defend her controversial alliance with a campaign supporter who was quoted in a social media post as saying there had been no decent mayors in Atlanta since 1974 including, Ambassador Andrew and Mayor Maynard Jackson. Moore responded that she had distanced herself from the commentor and denounced the comments and returned the campaign donation as she was not aware of the post although it did appear in a repost on Moore’s Instagram page.
In the second question of the debate Councilman Dickens responded to a softball question from J.D. Capelouto a local news reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding compounding city hall bureaucracy with the creation of new city department of labor, a new chief education position and a new city office focused on displacement. Dickens replied that the new offices would build on already existing offices minimizing expenses adding “we don’t have to do a lot of new things, what we have to do is the old things well.”
But the conversation began to heat up when candidates were allowed to question to pose one question each to the other on their performances in office.
Dickens lead with a hard-hitting question to Moore criticizing her for a no vote on the Atlanta Beltline, no to bodycams for police and no to seven police budgets. Moore fired back that she did not always vote no and that as a budget hawk she voted know on the procurement process for the beltline and the police budgets adding that on police bodycams “you should have also voted no. … That was the most shady deal I have seen come through city hall in my 20 plus years as an elected official. … If we had the [body cams] we were looking for when Rayshard Brooks happened we wouldn’t have been looking at the concrete and pavement.”
Huddleson added fuel to the political fire when he posed an unlikely question to both candidates asking that each critique their opponent’s shortcomings in office.
Moore commented that Dickens’ claim to fame and his qualifications for leading Atlanta would require more than “passing a couple of pieces of legislation and touting that as doing the job … I have provided counsel to Mr. Dickens and tohers as it relates to the rules and operations of city government.”
Dickens charged that Moore “has to own up to the responsibility that she has over 24 years in city council … just pointing out that this is bad … and just saying that you don’t like this or you don’t like that is not true leadership. … She should have a body of leadership that supports that she delivered for residents … and she doesn’t have that.”
Moore countered that her body of work is long and storied, as evidenced particularly for residents of District 9 … I’m the one that authored legislation that has gone statewide for Mattie’s call …. the list goes on and on. I have a body of work.”
The Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk-Young Debate Series can be viewed on the Atlanta Press Club Facebook page.