Jackson Juggernaut Steams Ahead
Sometimes brash, confrontational, Atlanta's first black mayor is running for four more years. ANALYSIS: ATLANTA MAYOR'S RACE
RED and white signs and stickers simply say ``Maynard.'' The memory and impact of Atlanta's first black mayor are still so powerful that a last name is not needed. Indeed, Maynard Jackson Jr. is a near-legend here.Skip to next paragraph
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Even after years working in the private sector as a lawyer, Mr. Jackson is still recognized and known throughout the metropolitan Atlanta area. And the rotund candidate, who seems loaded with restless energy, is now an easy favorite to win the nonpartisan election Oct. 3.
Jackson did not formally announce his campaign until last February, but had been raising money since 1987. So far, he has raised close to $1.5 million, mostly through private parties. His financial committee includes black and white business people from some of the oldest, largest corporations in the city.
Sometimes described as a member of Atlanta's ``black aristocracy,'' the former mayor was first elected in 1973. He left in 1979 during his second term, after the state and city voted to limit mayors to two consecutive terms.
His support includes most of the black establishment and a coalition of black ministers representing the black community. He has also been endorsed by the AFL-CIO's Labor Council in Atlanta, a group of 75 union locals in the 16-county metro area.
Most significant, however, his major opponent - Michael Lomax, the chairman of the Fulton County Commission - abruptly withdrew from the race in early August, leaving Jackson virtually unchallenged. Though the slim, articulate Mr. Lomax has a strong reputation as chairman of the county commission, he was considered the underdog.
Mr. Lomax's aggressive campaign linked Jackson to the city's high crime rate and accused him of using City Hall connections to further his career as municipal bond lawyer. But even with a series of TV commercials featuring endorsements by prominent Atlantans, Lomax could not chip away Jackson's support.
Jackson comes from a long line of preachers, teachers, and social activists that challenged the white power structure of the Old South in 1968, a few months after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. He quit his job with the National Labor Relations Board, entering the Democratic primary race for the United States Senate seat held by Herman Talmadge, a prominent Georgia politician and one of the ``good ol' boys.''
Entering the campaign at the last minute as an unknown, Jackson lost but carried Atlanta by a majority of more than 6,000 votes. A year later, he launched a well-organized and ultimately victorious campaign for vice mayor, getting out the black vote by visiting three or four churches each Sunday.
In the 1973 race, he defeated incumbent Mayor Sam Massell, Atlanta's first Jewish mayor. As the city's first black mayor, Jackson served during a difficult period in Atlanta's history. Though the city never exploded into racial riots in the late '60s, Atlanta was making a political and social transition from white dominance to black dominance.
A believer in the politics of inclusion, he pressured banks and other long-established institutions to open their boards and membership to minorities and women. He quickly adopted affirmative action and opened up city government's nearly 70,000 city jobs.
Though sometimes described as heavy-handed, Jackson proved that a new airport could be built on time and below budget using affirmative-action guidelines.