Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images
Franklin gives her inaugural address Jan. 7, 2002, in Atlanta.
Franklin gives her inaugural address Jan. 7, 2002, in Atlanta. Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin spent more than a decade working behind the scenes of Atlanta's City Hall. She developed a reputation as a workhorse who could get things done. But after a corruption scandal rocked then-Mayor Bill Campbell's administration, Franklin decided it was time to become a candidate for that office.
In 2002, Franklin campaigned as a reformer and won handily. That was the easy part. She inherited a huge budget shortfall, the widespread mistrust of voters, and a sewer system on the brink of collapse. Her approach to turning things around surprised many people. She did what some would consider political suicide. She cut city jobs, raised taxes, and spent millions repairing the water works.
Then Franklin won re-election in 2005 by a landslide. The same year, Time magazine named her one of America's five best big-city mayors. She's also the first woman mayor the city has ever had — and the first African-American woman ever to run a major southern city.
Mayor Franklin talks with Michel Martin about why she decided to enter politics.