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Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's official: Borders is off and running

Shortly before noon, in front of Old City Hall (the Mitchell Street side), Council President Lisa Borders jumped back into the Atlanta mayor's race with both feet and a couple dozen well-wishers.

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Her first order of business was to address why she'd changed her mind after leaving the campaign trail seven months ago. As Borders delicately explained, it seemed at the time that her parents' failing health would demand so much of her time that she couldn't continue her mayor campaign. Since then, she said, her family situation had "stabilized," enabling her to rejoin the race. To underscore her point, both her parents were at her side during the announcement.

Borders' family connections are a substantial part of her appeal for many older Atlantans. Her grandfather, the Rev. William Holmes Borders, was an influential pastor at Wheat Street Baptist Church who, in the pre-Civil Rights era, successfully helped push the city into integrating its police force and public transportation system. The Council president also name-checked late Mayor Maynard Jackson as having "inspired me to serve."

But Borders' main political asset is her close relationship with the Chamber of Commerce crowd. A Council member told me as an aside that, at a business breakfast he attended this morning, people came close to cheering when it was announced that Borders was getting back into the race.

The defining issues in the mayor's race are likely to be public safety and the city's financial management, which, Borders conceded, was "broken." She critcized Mayor Franklin's decision to initiate police furloughs as a cost-cutting measure, but stopped short of saying how she'd come up with the money to end them.

"We should leverage all available resources before we raise property taxes," she said. "But we shouldn't take that off the table."

Judging by the lapel pins her folks were wearing, Borders' campaign theme seems to be "Believe." As the rally ended, the 1998 Cher dance song of the same name came blasting out of the loudspeakers. Borders' revived campaign wasn't two minutes old and already she was pandering to gay voters.

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