ATLANTA — For weeks, there’s been talk that former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed plans to run for mayor.
In his first sit-down interview in three-and-a-half years, Reed answered questions from Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston about City Hall, the federal corruption case and talk that he wants to get back into politics.
He told Huddleston he still needs some time to sort it out, but in their 45-minute conversation, Huddleston said he got the sense it’s just a matter of time before Reed announces he’s running for mayor again.
“Are you planning to run for mayor?” Huddleston asked Reed.
“I felt like there are things happening in Atlanta that I’d never seen in my life, and I’ve been here all my life. So that’s what caused me to start talking about it,” Reed said.
Things like the city’s rising crime rate has affected just about everyone in the city from Buckhead to Bankhead.
Reed said it’s touched his mother and former mother-in-law.
“My mom goes to that Chick-fil-A in Colony Square. She lives in Colony Square. She went to that Chick-fil-A the day they had a robbery in broad daylight,” Reed said. “Maria’s grandmother was robbed while dropping Maria off.”
“I do know how to fix crime, and I do know I could turn our crime environment around in 180 days, and I know that I’ve done it before,” Reed continued.
- Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will not seek re-election
- ‘Time to pass the baton on’: Mayor Bottoms becomes emotional in speech about not seeking 2nd term
- Who will be Atlanta’s 61st mayor? Here’s a look at some possible candidates
But do Atlantans want another four years of Reed as mayor?
“Do you feel like the city needs you to be mayor?” Huddleston asked Reed.
“Fortunately, my ego is smaller, so I’m not approaching it that way,” Reed said.
Reed ran Atlanta for eight years, taking over in 2010 after the U.S. economy had crumbled.
But like a phoenix, Atlanta rose to some of the most prosperous years in its history. But there were problems.
Federal investigators have indicted six members of Reed’s staff, including his deputy chief, tarnishing a roaring record with city contractors and employees heading to federal court.
“You were at City Hall, 14, 16 hours a day and somehow or another this corruption was happening on your watch,” Huddleston said.
“Yes,” Reed said.
“How did that happen, and you not know about it, sir?” Huddleston asked Reed.
“First of all, it’s a 9,000-person organization. I don’t know if you expected me to follow Adam Smith into a bathroom. I would not do that. He had an impeccable record and reputation. But if you go look at the specific charges related to individuals, they’re related to individual behavior,” Reed said. “I would love to have another interview where you and I sit down and you explain to me why I should have known or how I should have known.”
“Anything on my watch, I take responsibility for,” Reed said. “I’m sorry I didn’t see it faster, and certainly after what I’ve been through personally, but more importantly what our city was taken through, I would do everything in my power to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
Reed said if he runs for mayor again, he will have nothing but the best people working for him.
“The buck stops with me. I made no excuses. I accept responsibility and if I decide to run for mayor again, we would take even more extraordinary measures advised by the best people in the state, in the city, are the measures that we would take, and we would execute them,” Reed said.
For four years, the feds have continued their investigation, but Reed hasn’t been charged with a crime.
“Are you under investigation?” Huddleston asked Reed.
“The Justice Department under William Barr has looked into every aspect of my life for more than three years and took no action,” Reed said. “I wanted to be mayor since I was 13 years old. I told you that outside of the Office of Mayor. I would never ever [have] broken my mother’s heart by taking money from somebody.”
Even though he hasn’t officially said he’s going to run, he told Huddleston that he’s already received commitments for him get into the race.
“We have pretty exceptional financial commitments,” Reed said.
“For you to run for mayor?” Huddleston asked.
“Yes,” Reed said. “I’m not going to play games about this. We’re moving at a deliberate pace seven days from the date that Mayor Bottoms made her announcement. And sometime in the very near future I’m going to make a judgment, and I’m going to make it known.”
Cox Media Group