New Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will deliver the keynote address at the Buckhead Coalition’s invitation-only annual meeting Jan. 31, in one of her first major appearances since her election last month.
In a nod to the bruising electoral battle against Buckhead resident and former City Councilmember Mary Norwood, the event’s theme will be “Tying Atlanta Together,” according to Sam Massell, the coalition’s president and a former Atlanta mayor himself. He previewed a gift that he said all attendees will receive: a crystal statuette of a handshake.
For Bottoms, it will be a victorious return to the event where she appeared a year ago with seven other candidates in a luncheon Massell had orchestrated as an unofficial mayoral campaign kickoff forum. It also will be a visit to a neighborhood that heavily favored Norwood, whom the Coalition had formally endorsed.
Massell said the Coalition is keenly aware of the politics and manners involved in Bottoms’ visit, and of the city’s political divisions demonstrated by her razor-thin win – by less than 1 percent.
“It seemed appropriate we should definitely be upfront about the importance of Atlanta being united,” said Massell.
One person not invited to join in the unity: Norwood. That’s because “she’s not titled as such,” said Massell, as she is no longer a local elected official or leader of any notable company or agency.
The Buckhead Coalition is an influential, invitation-only group of 100 area CEOs and community leaders. Its annual luncheon, held at the 103 West event facility on West Paces Ferry Road, is also invitation-only, though certain journalists are invited to cover it as well. The luncheon usually features a prominent speaker, such as the 2016 keynote address by now former Mayor Kasim Reed. Gifts for guests are another tradition; last year’s was another unity gesture from Massell, a Democrat, to his largely Republican group membership: a copy of now-President Donald Trump’s 1987 book “The Art of the Deal.”