September 25, 2017 4:40 PM
I’ve been telling people for months now who have been watching the mayor’s race in Atlanta not to sleep with Peter Aman at the door.
I know Peter, and I’ve been as impressed with him as I have with anyone involved in public service in Atlanta. While serving last year as chairman of Partners for HOME — Atlanta’s homelessness coordinating organization — Aman put the number-crunching analysts of Bain Capital at the disposal of the group’s strategy committee. We surfaced a lot of information, not the least of which being that the city’s spending on homelessness was upside-down; we’re spending two thirds of our money on temporary shelter and a third on more permanent solutions, when it should be exactly the opposite.
That’s the sort of thing that gives management consultants (and MBAs who’ve never really had a shot at consulting, like me) the giggles.
So I can’t say that I’m surprised to see Aman at the top of the Committee for a Better Atlanta scorecard in the mayor’s race today. Nor does Cathy Woolard’s performance surprise me. Both are … well … wonks, people who are expected to actually know something about the business of governance.
That’s what the scorecard is meant to uncover: who knows the details. It’s not meant to endorse candidates — someone can have a very detailed, well-reasoned, highly-informed plan that is still horrid policy — but it will reveal who hasn’t done their homework.
Given that the scoring teams this year had to cover seventy-seven candidates in more than a dozen different races for mayor, city council, county commission and school board, the process may end up being a very big deal in down-ballot races.
I know and have met some of the third-tier candidates running for mayor. Suffice it to say that some results did not surprise me. For example, I have found myself in a shouting match with Carl Jackson at the Five Points MARTA station on some days, irritated about the bait and switch petition for 24-hour MARTA service he circulates which is actually his pauper’s ballot certification. (I have no idea what he’s doing, either.) Laban King is marginally a candidate, who doesn’t appear to fully understand what a mayor actually does in the city. And yet, both are on the ballot. Mechanisms like the CBA scoring are a way of separating wheat from chaff.
But I saw a few surprises. Liliana Bakhtieri’s “not qualified” ranking is a genuine shock, and I can only imagine something dramatic must have happened during candidate interviews because her written responses seem reasonably informed to me. The race to replace Keisha Lance Bottoms is hot garbage outside of Brionte McCorkle … who I’d never heard of before. Alex Wan’s former seat is a shootout between two extremely qualified candidates — Jennifer Ide and Kirk Rich. And the committee apparently has a low opinion of some incumbents.
(Full disclosure: I work for Central Atlanta Progress, and my employer is on the board of CBA. My comments are not an endorsement by Central Atlanta Progress or the CBA of any candidate.)