MARIETTA — Councilman Anthony Coleman’s latest term with the City Council has included many controversies, yet despite public criticisms no one from Ward 5 has announced they will run against him in the Nov. 5 city elections.
In the past four years, Coleman pleaded guilty to assaulting fellow Councilwoman Annette Lewis in September 2011, faced many speakers at council meetings about the lack of progress from the 2009 parks bond on recreation centers in low-income areas, and most recently, missed a public meeting by the council on the $35 million redevelopment bond that syphoned money from a possible project on the segregation-era Lemon Street high school.
James Dodd, who represented Ward 5 for two consecutive terms ending in 2001, said he has not yet decided if he will enter the City Council race.
“I have a little time yet,” Dodd said.
Dodd still lives in Ward 5, which includes most of the city north of Roswell Road within the 120 Loop, as well as areas extending to the far north portion of the Marietta city limits.
Three terms ago, Coleman said he decided to run for the first time in the 2002 race to serve the citizens of Marietta.
Coleman said when he first joined the council, he was not aware of the long hours required, including seven-hour meetings.
Coleman said his level of commitment and flexibility makes it possible to be a representative.
“So much needs to be done in the city and each ward,” he said.
Coleman said there is no conflict between the needs of his ward and citywide issues.
Coleman added that he gets calls from all over Marietta, and that most council members appreciate help addressing concerns.
If re-elected, Coleman said he will continue to promote economic development and work with the Marietta Housing Authority to create affordable housing.
Coleman serves as the council’s liaison to the Marietta Housing Authority, which does not come with additional compensation.
One of his largest focuses is in helping to spur job growth in Marietta, which is why Coleman said he has been one of the sponsors of the Annual Career Expo for the past 10 years.
The job fair gathers employers, as well as colleges and universities, each September at the Cobb County Civic Center.
A new ward
In December, the council approved the redistricting of the city’s seven wards based on 2010 census data, giving each ward about 8,000 people, according to the city.
City Clerk Stephanie Guy said the city’s elections are handled by the Cobb County Board of Elections.
“(The board) is currently working on possible changes to our polling places and precinct boundaries to coincide with our new ward map,” Guy said.
Coleman’s Ward 5 runs along North Cobb Parkway and I-75 from Canton Road to Roswell Street.
Coleman said the district changes caused him to lose some blocks and gain others, but that most of his core supporters remain in his district.
Coleman said this election cycle will be about embracing added constituents.
“That is what elections are all about, building new relationships,” he said.
At this point, Coleman said he is the only candidate running for the Ward 5 seat.
Coleman said he is campaigning as if there was opposition.
“I don’t take anything for granted,” he said.
Cobb County NAACP President Deane Bonner said that “without a doubt” there were community members that wanted to run for Coleman’s seat, but they were redistricted out of Ward 5.
“The NAACP would love to see every candidate have an opponent,” Bonner said.
Bonner said members of the local NAACP are active during election cycles and have a high rate of voter registration.
“These people vote,” Bonner said.
Coleman said he is already going door to door encouraging residents to vote in this year’s election, especially with the $35 million Franklin Road redevelopment bond on the ballot.
Coleman said he will not push for or take any position on the council-approved bond.
Pam Lindley, who lives on Avery Street off North Marietta Parkway, now lives in Coleman’s redrawn district.
Lindley said so many issues in her community have been at a standstill and her area needs a new representative “with a backbone” that will voice their opinions in a stronger way.
“I personally will not re-elect him,” Lindley said.
Lindley, who works as a hostess for Shillings on the Square, added that Coleman is just one person, and that she feels her neighborhood is not supported by the whole council.
Lindley said Coleman has a devoted voter base because of his long history in Cobb County and the fact that he is often out in the community.
Coleman graduated from North Cobb High School before attending the Chattahoochee Institute of Technology.
He works as the part-time pastor for the Vision for Souls Family Worship Center in Mableton.
“He probably knows everybody in Marietta,” Lindley said.
The redrawn Ward 4 is comprised of less than 5 percent African-Americans and is represented by Councilman Andy Morris,. Aside from that ward, “every ward in the city of Marietta has a substantial amount of African Americans,” Bonner said.
Ward 5 remains the only district where a majority of residents are African-American.
When the council was drawing the new ward map, Bonner spoke at council meetings against the changes.
Bonner said now that the lines are redrawn, it is the NAACP’s focus to expand activism and voting by African Americans in districts that have high numbers of minorities, like Wards 1, 2 and 7 represented by council members Annette Lewis, Grif Chalfant and Philip Goldstein, respectively.
Bonner said the organization’s mission is about advocating for representation in more than just Ward 5.
“We will no longer continue to fight for one ward in the city,” Bonner said.