District powerbrokers exchanged handshakes, fist bumps and elbow taps and some even wrote sizable checks to Kasim Reed, making the race for Atlanta mayor a tale of two cities during a festive campaign fundraiser in the nation’s capital.
Howard University President Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, Attorney A. Scott Bolden and National Newspapers Publishers Association President Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. counted among those in attendance for the event, which took place atop the Maryland Avenue Apartments in Southwest.
Hall of Fame NFL legend Edgerrin James and Georgia Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson also attended while noted civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump appeared via video.
Emmy winner Clara Wilkerson, the founder of 1 CRW Worldwide, Inc., and producer of The Chavis Chronicles on PBS-TV, hosted the soirée.
Reed, a Howard University graduate who served as Atlanta’s mayor for consecutive terms beginning in 2010, stated his case for why voters should welcome him back for a third term. He denounced the scandal that threatened to scar his legacy from his last term in office, denying any wrongdoing.
“These people [Reed’s detractors] kept saying all these things about me but a funny thing happened,” he said to the overflowing crowd. “Every poll not tied to a political candidate had me leading. Why? Because people know that they were better off four years ago than they are right now [when Reed completed his second term at Atlanta’s city hall].”
The 52-year-old seeks to replace Keisha Lance Bottoms who announced that she wouldn’t seek re-election in May.
“Everybody running right for mayor has had their shot,” Reed declared as the crowd roared louder. “Now that all the noise is over and all the things they’ve said about me have proved demonstrably false, I’m coming back to run this city. Let’s go.”
Reed didn’t directly address the scandals that included allegations of misuse of public funds and city officials who received jail time for bribery which damaged his image during his time in office.
Earlier this year, reports surfaced, linking Reed to an ongoing federal investigation into the misuse of campaign funds. However, in an earlier response, Reed declared he was not under investigation, saying, “during my tenure in office, I didn’t even have as much as a successful ethics complaint filed against me.”
But during the celebratory evening last week, Reed emerged as a conquering hero who had returned to his Washington roots.
His supporters noted how Reed created more than 33,000 jobs when he held the mayor’s office. In addition, they recalled how he relocated at least 17 major company headquarters to the ATL and injected a whopping amount of more than $5 billion into the city’s economy through several programs.
“Kasim did a great job as mayor over eight years in office,” Johnson said. “He’s a strong visionary leader who did much to make us proud in Atlanta. But times are so uncertain, particularly for us as a people. We see all around us where our power is crumbling and we need to have people in office who can protect the gains we’ve made.”
Wilkerson similarly counted among Reed’s believers.
“He’s been there before and he knows what it takes,” Wilkerson said. “On day one, Kasim Reed can go in and rocket the city to the top.”
From a quick glance, it appeared that Reed had already won, perhaps because of his Washington, D.C. connections, all of whom came out in force to socialize and write checks in support of the campaign.
“There’s a special relationship between D.C. and Atlanta. It’s just a [90-minute] ride on the airplane,” Reed said. “I had my character shaped in the streets of D.C.”
A summer youth employment initiative modeled after the successful D.C. program instilled decades ago by the late Marion Barry counts among Reed’s campaign promises.
He said D.C.’s beloved “Mayor for Life” encouraged him to do just that just days before Barry’s death in 2014.
“He told me that I have to make sure and [replicate] his initiative,” Reed recalled. “He told me to make sure every teenager has a job. So, during my first 100 days, I will pass an ordinance that allows every teen between 13 and 19 to have a job every summer for six weeks because we have to reconnect our young people with work.”
After revealing to his supporters plans to fight crime and how he convinced producer Tyler Perry to build in Atlanta and what has become the world’s biggest and most profitable movie studio, Reed completed what sounded like a victory speech.
“D.C., like Atlanta, is an example to the nation of Black excellence and what people of color can accomplish,” Reed declared. “There’s a reason this city feels so good. It’s well run, and it gives Black people everywhere in America someone [positive] to point to.”
CORRECTION: D.C. Fundraiser for “Kasim Reed” Candidate for Mayor, Atlanta, Georgia, was “Produced by DC Event Impresario, “Ms, Vern Goff, CEO, Emerald City Communications and Marketing,” Ms. Goff also served on the Host Committee.