Vincent Fort vows to decriminalize marijuana in Atlanta mayor race

Sen. Vincent Fort holds a press conference in his office in the Capitol. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Sen. Vincent Fort holds a press conference in his office in the Capitol. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

No one can accuse Vincent Fort of playing it safe with his campaign for Atlanta mayor.

In his formal campaign announcement over the weekend, the Democratic state senator vowed to decriminalize marijuana in Atlanta city limits and said the city would pay for two years of community college or technical school tuition on his watch.

He also said “predatory” for-profit parking enforcement will end – he promised to oust Park Atlanta and “anything that looks like” it – and said the city government would help launch a “community schools” program offering extended hours, meals and healthcare for needy children and their families.

“There are some, even some who want to be our mayor, who tell us everything is going in the right direction in Atlanta. And it might be for them,” Fort said Saturday, mentioning a litany of long-blighted areas. “How long do we have to be neglected like this while the resources of government benefit the rich and the well off?”

Fort did not specify how he would pay for the tuition-free program or the schools initiative if elected, but he suggested he would target tax breaks and other incentives for developers, such as the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Falcons stadium deals, to raise some of the revenue.

“If someone tells you we can’t afford it,” he said, “ask them why we’re spending close to half a billion dollars on subsidizing billionaire businessmen with stadium projects, but we can’t make sure our kids have a chance to get the education they’ll need to succeed.

Fort is leaning on the same insurgency that powered Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who also promised free college tuition and sponsored a measure to end the federal marijuana prohibition. He is betting a progressive backlash to Donald Trump’s election in Atlanta will power him to a runoff in a crowded race.

The No. 2 Democrat in the state Senate, Fort has joined a race that’s already well underway.

Atlanta city councilmembers Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mary Norwood, Kwanza Hall, Ceasar Mitchell, former City Councilwoman Cathy Woolard, ex- city chief operating officer Peter Aman and Reed aide Michael Sterling are among the contenders or likely contenders.

Read more about the fallout of last week’s election:

Amendment 1 defeat is threat to the governor’s agenda

Trump victory scrambles the field for 2018 Georgia governor’s race

A presidential campaign that turned on what we refused to see

Top Georgia Democrats prepare for era of Trump

Clinton supporters in Georgia struggle: “How can they not see what I see?”

In Georgia, Glascock County is the heart of Trump Country

Reader Comments 0

24 comments
Philip Downer
Philip Downer

What about free chocolate milk during lunch time? And longer naps!

Jim Chapman
Jim Chapman

He should also include $15 hour minimum wage increase for the City of Atlanta as a part of his campaign platform. Atlanta would truly be the most progressive city in the southeast.

Melody Dareing
Melody Dareing

Can't. In violation of state law. Local laws can't violate state or federal laws.

Bonnie Martin
Bonnie Martin

God save Atlanta if he is elected. Not that I object to weed being decriminalized, but he is taking a page from the Trump playbook - promising things he cannot make happen.

Erskine Martin
Erskine Martin

Yep Atlanta really needs that..(SARCASM INTENDED)!!!!

Sandra Dale Sikes
Sandra Dale Sikes

So Atlanta does not believe in law and order? Next are they going to become a sanctuary city?

Rob Danner
Rob Danner

Can't they get any decent adults to run for mayor of Atlanta? They seem to have a bunch of Looney Tunes!

Bonnie Martin
Bonnie Martin

And you're just the kind of idiot he's looking for - too dumb to know he will say anything just to win. Fool.

Ralph Johnson
Ralph Johnson

Idiot? I don't kiss nobody a$$ not your! I'm going to put this man in office to piss you off and that's what I want. Bonnie you should never been born Clown.

Bonnie Martin
Bonnie Martin

Ralph Johnson Well that's another clever reason to vote for someone - just to piss someone off. You just made my point, again. SMH

Ralph Johnson
Ralph Johnson

I didn't ask for your dam opinion! Second have you ever fought the war on drugs? I have stay in your lane. I guess you didn't get my point from the first time kiss my A$$.

Jeff Budkoski
Jeff Budkoski

So only the candidates for mayor can smoke pot? No wonder so many are running? Where do I apply?

Shelia Law Ossege
Shelia Law Ossege

Can we do this for the whole state? It's ridiculous that people go to jail for having a half a joint on them

Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson

He can if the city council approves it. But it would only be within the city limits of Atlanta. But, on the other hand if the GA State patrol pulls a person over within the city limits they would be arrested. They are a state agency and in force state and federal laws.

Bonnie Martin
Bonnie Martin

Jay Davis Care to submit a more intelligent and thoughtful retort??

Stephen Chabot
Stephen Chabot

Wow some thing I am for on this page. It should be decriminalized.