Pity the candidates for City Council president.
As a non-voting cat herder whose only mandated duties are running Council meetings and making committee appointments, the job of Council prez hardly seems worth the time, effort and expense it takes to win it.
Still, we have a hard-fought race between two councilmembers one young and ambitious, the other a veteran who sees the post as way to leverage her accumulated experience.
An at-large councilman for the past eight years, Ceasar Mitchell is bursting with ideas. He wants the city to adopt zero-based budgeting. Hed like to allow private sanitation companies to compete with city trash collectors. Mitchell even suggests that pumping desalinated water in from the coast might be a way to solve the regions water issues.
Just taking the time to study all of his suggestions would require the next Council president to be a whirlwind multitasker. But the nature of the job is not to initiate reams of legislation; its to help guide city policy by building consensus among councilmembers with competing interests.
Mitchell, an affable and thoughtful attorney, could be perfectly fine in that role but Clair Muller was arguably born for it.
Muller, a former neighborhood activist with a background in transportation issues, has become, over the years, the citys reigning technocrat, with an unparalleled knowledge of virtually every aspect of city operations. A Council workhorse, shes served on every committee and chaired one or another for 17 of her 20 years in office. Shes the architect of both the citywide recycling program and Mayor Franklins sewer repair plan. And Muller has served 14 years as the citys emissary to the Atlanta Regional Commission, where she gained invaluable expertise with transportation issues.
Muller wants to dedicate her next few years to solving the citys transportation woes regionalizing MARTA, developing the Beltline, implementing the Connect Atlanta plan developed with her oversight and theres no one better qualified to do so.
And Mullers two-decades-long public record is spotless. Although shes consistently voted against all tax increases, shes put our money where her mouth is; shes been frugal with her office expenses and this year returned more than $240,000 in unused administrative funds. Mitchell, on the other hand, has shown questionable judgment in hiring his brother to do work for his Council office, an ethics violation for which he was recently fined $15,000.
Well be the first to warn you: Muller isnt an exciting politician or a stirring speaker. Shes a policy wonk whos managed to keep the respect of her fellow councilmembers. She wont lead by force of personality, but through a combination of solid reasoning and hard work. Thats fine by us.
If you're looking for the CL's complete endorsement package, including our pick for Atlanta's next mayor, check back tomorrow. Here are our endorsements for the Atlanta City Council Post-1 and Post-2 At-Large seats.
(Photo by Joeff Davis)
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