Former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell, who is now the president of the Buckhead Coalition, sent a letter to mayoral candidates to ask them to tone down the negative rhetoric.
“We thank you for your willingness to give of your time and talent – as well as funds – but we are seriously concerned over what we detect to be mean-spirited personal overtones in conflict with former Mayor Bill Hartsfield’s incantation of Atlanta being “a city too busy to hate,” Massell said in the letter, which was distributed to some media outlets.
“As a result, we predict that the expected runoff will offer the electorate two candidates who have chosen to avoid the hate-mongering,” he said.
Massell later clarified to the Reporter that he didn’t mean to overstate the behavior that candidates are engaging in by using the word “hate-mongering.” He said he is concerned about negative campaigning some candidates are engaging in against opponents, but wouldn’t name specific behaviors or candidates.
“If there is a clean way to do it, that’s the option I would exercise,” he said. However, he said he does not mean to imply that candidates should suppress information about opponents that the public needs to know.
Massell said he is concerned the national political climate is contributing to the negativity in the mayoral election.
“It seems to be heading in the negative direction that we’ve experienced in such quantity on the national level. I’m concerned it’s dripping down to the local level,” he said. “It’s not behavior fit for Atlanta.”
Massell also noted in the letter that the Buckhead Coalition’s political action committee, Better Community Political Action Committee, will not endorse a mayoral candidate until after the Nov. 7 election. The PAC will endorse a candidate that makes it to the run-off election, if one is needed, which would be held on Dec. 5. Massell cited the closeness of the race as being the reason for the decision.