Atlanta’s Mayor Young Faces Comic, Salesman and Private Eye In Election
ATLANTA (AP) _ To consider Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young’s re-election chances, take a look at his challengers on Tuesday’s non-partisan ballot: a stand-up comic, a tire salesman in a cowboy hat and a private eye who proclaims himself ″God’s candidate.″
Young, who declared himself unbeatable when he launched his re-election bid, is expected to breeze into a second term by winning more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
″I hope it means we’ve done a good enough job that most serious candidates thought they couldn’t win,″ Young said in a telephone interview Monday. ″The job of mayor is one that hundreds in this city would covet and qualify for.″
Young has received frequent criticism during his first four years at City Hall.
For example, he is often out of town or out of the country.
Neighborhood groups say he turned his back on them by supporting two controversial development projects - the $22 million Presidential Parkway planned to serve Jimmy Carter’s presidential library and a train-to-truck freight transfer facility.
Opponents of a planned revival of the Underground Atlanta downtown entertainment complex say the mayor is throwing money away by backing it.
But Young, 53, defends the projects as good for the city’s economy. He Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the early days of the civil rights movement, was elected to three terms in Congress and served as United Nations ambassador under President Carter before running for mayor in 1981.
He has received praise for forging an alliance between Atlanta’s white business establishment and its black political power structure and his term in office has seen Atlanta drop the ugly distinction of the nation’s murder capital.
He said his goals for a second term include increasing development in the oft-negelcted Southside, bringing more jobs to the city and more housing downtown, and improving municipal services.
Whether these goals are achieved, however, is not entirely in the hands of elected officials, Young said. ″I think they depend in some measure on the condition of the overall economy.″
Young said he believes Atlanta has the resources to continue its growth into the next century, and he would like his legacy to be the completion of Atlanta’s transformation into a world business center.
″I’d like to consolidate Atlanta as an international center, and not just as a slogan,″ Young said. ″We’ve succeeded in (international) investment and we’re just getting about ready to succeed in international trade.″
Among the challengers to Young is J.K. Ramey, the 74-year-old owner of a downtown tire business who distinguished himself in 1979 by placing a large billboard above his store warning out-of-town visitors of Atlanta’s crime problems.
The 6-foot-6 Ramey, who carries a gun at his side, has focused his campaign on improving law and order and making the city safer.
Marvin Yizar, 35, is the president of Atlanta Investigations Inc. and a Methodist minister. Campaign posters around the city name him ″God’s candidate,″ and he says he was inspired by the Lord to seek political office.
Yizar has been very critical of Young’s trips abroad, saying a mayor should spend more time within the city limits.
The other challenger, 47-year-old comedian Jerry Farber, runs a nightclub and is a write-in candidate. He said he is running for mayor mainly to draw attention to the issue of pari-mutuel betting, which he would like to see legalized.
Officials are predicting a small turnout - about 25 percent of the city’s 200,000 registered voters.