Opinion: Matt Ryan for Atlanta’s mayor (sort of)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan throws against the Carolina Panthers in the Georgia Dome, Oct. 2, 2016. (AJC Photo
/ Brant Sanderlin)

Labor Day traditionally marks the unofficial start to Atlanta’s mayoral election, making for the shortest campaign this side of your senior class president.

The candidates have been making the rounds for months, but they only recently qualified for the race. Eight are thought to be legitimate. Some are more legitimate than others, but when the vote is split eight ways it doesn’t take much to become a real factor.

Whoever wins will become mayor when the city famous for rising from the ashes is seen as ascendant. But maybe not quite as much as we sometimes hear.

The Atlanta Regional Commission recently released its 2017 population estimates, and the numbers indicate the general trend of the past half-century hasn’t changed. Cherokee, Gwinnett and Henry counties — the edges of the 10-county region — are the ones that have grown their share of the overall pie since 2010.

Atlanta has added almost 10,000 people since last year. Impressive. Yet, its share of the region’s population is lower than it was in 2010 — a trend that dates to at least 1970. Forty-seven years ago, almost a third of metro Atlanta’s population lived in the central city. Now it’s 10 percent. Only if you go out a couple of decimal places can you detect even a slight rebound, from 9.96 percent in 2015 to 10.03 percent now.

Even a permanent flattening of the downward trend would be welcome news for the city. But Atlanta believes it’s positioned to soar, tripling its population while capturing some 40 percent of the region’s population growth over the next couple of decades. If so, it will take the kind of upswing that hasn’t begun to materialize.

Not that it’ll be a bad thing if the city fails to add some 1 million people between now and 2040. Doing so would require a deployment of public resources — for schools, roads and so on — that may not be worth the cost. And either way, Atlanta will still be the single most important part of an increasingly important region. But the next mayor will have to think about his or her task differently if it’s about building on Atlanta’s centrality rather than growing its population exponentially.

Here, an analogy from another season that starts around Labor Day is apt.

On a football team’s offense, the most important player is almost always the quarterback. Every player is important, and the quarterback is only one of 11, but he touches the ball on every play. Without solid to strong play from him, the team probably won’t score enough to win.

As a result, he’ll get most of the credit for wins (and blame for losses) and most likely earn the most money. The biggest part of his job is to distribute the ball to others who, in most cases, will actually score the touchdowns, even if he plays a key role in many of them.

Atlanta is just one player in this region, but it’s the QB. And the difference between a great signal-caller and a mediocre one is often the difference between success and failure for the whole team. Just ask the Miami Dolphins if they wish they’d drafted Matt Ryan when they had the chance.

Ryan’s the ultimate team player at the position: smart, skilled, unselfish and dedicated. He’s a little busy right now, but maybe Atlantans can pick out a Matt Ryan from this year’s crowd.

Reader Comments 0

25 comments
JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Reading men attempting to come to the defense of women is very telling.

Hey geniuses, they don't need our help.

They are taking over in case you missed it.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

There are many challenges for Atlanta, but if one was to hunt the primary and point a finger it would be to the geniuses who designed the downtown connector.

You can't fix the traffic problems until the connector is fixed.

You can talk about light rail till the cows come home, elect the best mayor in all of time, but the connector is the problem and correction is so staggering none of the politicians or GA DOT talk about it.

Atlanta has already outgrown its footprint.

More population is just a larger blippit (10 lbs of crap in a 5 lb bag).  

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb 

I don't think there is something wrong with the connector. Only problem is there are too many cars on the road. If public transportation was a viable option, then there wouldn't be so many traffic problems downtown.

I avoid the downtown connector at all times during the day.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@JohnnyReb So what would you do genius? It's there as is all the businesses and neighborhoods. Oh and how would you pay for it. I know you've got to have implementable solutions!

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

"The biggest part of his job is to distribute the ball to others who, in most cases, will actually score the touchdowns, even if he plays a key role in many of them."

Oh dear. This is a not a case for socialism is it. Seems any reference to assistance or distribution gets label as such.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@McGarnagle Nope. Here's an example of what I mean: The Braves now play in Cobb County, which (most in) Cobb consider a big deal for them. But the team isn't there in the first place, nor would have moved from somewhere else in the U.S. to Cobb, but for Atlanta. Cobb scored, but Atlanta played a role (and no, I don't mean its dropping the ball on negotiations with the Braves ...)

You could draw similar comparisons involving the airport.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Atlanta and women are similar.

Can't live with them, can't live without them. 


Oh wow!  Can't live with them, can't live without them. I've never heard that before. It it original? You're just so very clever. Thank you for not coming on here and muttering tired old cliches like some nimrod.



JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

Atlanta (proper) will have a hard time growing because it can't grow outward.  The only way to expand is to increase the population density.  With almost all of the land built out, the only answer is more high rises which are a tough sell.  If they aren't going to annex cities, then I don't understand the growth plan. 

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@JFMcNamara Have you heard about the annexation of Emory? At one time there was an idea to annex out to the perimeter.

jhgm63
jhgm63

Until the center snaps the ball, the quarterback can' t do a thing. In many ways, the state government acts as the center.

straker
straker

"smart, skilled, unselfish and dedicated"  If only our politicians in the House and Senate could fit that description.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Atlanta and women are similar.

Can't live with them, can't live without them. 

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@JohnnyReb

Any women in your life probably think "can't live with him, live better without him."

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@JohnnyReb

So what are you saying, JR --- that "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"?

"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." --- Robert A. Heinlein

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb

I didn't find anything sexist about his comment, and I"M a woman.

Opposites attract.

Women have issues with men too.

Just ask feminists. They've got a whole slew of 'em!!! They can't stop talkin' about 'em.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@FIGMO2 @JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb

Yeah, felicia, but you are a well known self hating woman. So it figures that you wouldn't find anything misognystic in what is, by any objective measure, clear misognysm shown by Lil J (and not the first time, I might add, for him, or for you!).

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Eye wonder @FIGMO2 @JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb

"Strong women don't play victim, don't make themselves look pitiful and don't point fingers. They stand and they deal." --- Mandy Hale

Like I deal with you, PeeWee.

Now SHAKE IT OFF!

Women are not the topic of Kyle's article.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@FIGMO2 @Eye wonder @JFMcNamara @JohnnyReb Good thing Susan B Anthony, Jane Addams, Sojourner Truth, and Ida B Wells and Betty Freidan didn't just "stand and deal."


They pointed out wrongs, fought for change, and are the reason you can vote and have equal rights.  I guess punching bag is a good option though...

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@JFMcNamara @FIGMO2 @Eye wonder @JohnnyReb

Didn't just stand and deal?

Yes, they did!

What do you think Hale meant when she chose the phrase STAND and deal. She didn't intend to deal by lying down.

Phenomena and noumena! Ding an sich (the thing in itself) --- Emmanuel Kant

All humans are autonomous, females included, Mac.