We’ve shined our spotlight on Kathleen Sebelius, Janet Napolitano and Claire McCaskill. Now, it’s Shirley Franklin’s turn. Rarely is a mayor so outstanding that she is lauded not only as a great leader of her city, but mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. Well, that’s Shirley Franklin for you.
Along with leaders like Kathleen Sebelius and Hillary Clinton, the White House Project, a nonprofit that promotes women leadership, has listed Shirley Franklin as one if the most talented leaders in the country. Please stick the name in your brain – you will hear it again and again, if we’re all lucky.
Shirley Franklin is the first woman mayor of Atlanta and the first African American woman to lead a major Southern city. In 2005, she was named one of the nation’s top five mayors by Time Magazine and was re-elected in 2005 by 90% of the vote. Holy moly. 90%! I guess it’s not so surprising, considering that in just a few years, she had turned a $82 million dollar deficit into a $18 million dollar surplus.
She recently came to Portland to talk about her initiatives to create more parks and green industries in Atlanta. This is where she’s really exciting, in my opinion. Leaders all over the country are talking about creating green industry – she quietly went and just did it. As a result, Atlanta went from having one of the lowest percentages of LEED certified buildings to now having one of the highest. Her innovative task force on public spaces has recommended a doubling of public parks in the next ten years, and she successfully pushed for a $150 million bond measure to help clean up Atlanta. Because of the bond measure, there are 1,200 projects underway to clean up polluted waterways, “green” public spaces with plants and water containment systems and to simply pick up trash. Truly amazing.
It’s not just in this area that she’s shined. She has stood strongly against a ban on gay marriage in the state, rightly calling it a distraction from real issues that affect people’s daily lives. She’s cracked down on illegal guns, created innovative programs to help the homeless and instituted one of the strongest governmental ethics programs in the state.
I really like her. While Obama may not necessarily have a mayor on his short list for vice-presidents, perhaps he should. If not, I hope that Shirley Franklin is considered for a significant leadership role in the new administration of President Barack Obama. After all, Franklin said that she supported him “150 percent.” They would be great together.