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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ceasar Mitchell files for Council prez

It's been known around City Hall for a week or so that Councilman Ceasar Mitchell would switch from the mayor's race to that for Council president. Yesterday, he made it official by filing the necessary paperwork.

The move seemed likely as far back as the beginning of the year, if only because Mitchell hadn't raised nearly as much money as the two mayoral front-runners, Councilwoman Mary Norwood and state Sen. Kasim Reed, or even Jesse Spikes, a well-connected attorney with little name recognition. When City Council President Lisa Borders jumped back into the race last week, Mitchell's change-up probably became inevitable.

As of now, the president's race is a two-way contest between Mitchell and Councilwoman Clair Muller, but it likely won't remain that way. State Sen. Vincent Fort is an oft-rumored possibility, and there may be others as well.

Here's a bit from Mitchell's own press release:

During his two terms as citywide councilmember, Mitchell authored legislation and led the creation of four Tax Allocation Districts in underdeveloped neighborhoods, spearheaded the use of rookie police officers on foot patrols, and instituted a citywide college preparatory exam series.

Having won two city-wide elections, Mitchell must be seen as a formidable candidate. He's a real estate attorney with Epstein Becker and Green, a national law firm with offices in Buckhead. As a side note, one of his co-workers was, until recently, Burrell Ellis, who won election last fall as DeKalb CEO.

Although state law prohibits candidates from transferring campaign contributions from one race to another, Mitchell explains that he only needs to get the donors' permission. Those who refuse will have their money returned.

The past few months have been somewhat rough for Mitchell, culminating in a $15,000 fine for a city ethics violation after it was revealed he had hired his brother to do work for his Council office. City ethics rules bar city officials and employees from hiring immediate family members.

Muller, by contrast, has never run city-wide, but has become familiar to many voters in her 20 years on Council.

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