Atlanta mayor: Why Hillary Clinton is the right choice

Updated 4:24 PM EST, Mon February 29, 2016

Story highlights

Kasim Reed: About 80% of Americans live in or near cities, and many struggle with specifically urban problems

Bernie Sanders' one-issue platform just doesn't cut it, says Reed

Editor’s Note: Kasim Reed, a Democrat, is mayor of Atlanta and has endorsed Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN) —  

I ran for mayor on a straightforward notion, that cities are where “hope meets the streets.” About 80% of Americans live in or near cities, and many struggle with specifically urban problems. Barack Obama also campaigned on a message of hope, and he, too, knew that progress for cities – and for the country – only comes when leaders achieve measurable results.

 Kasim Reed
PHOTO: courtesy Kasim Reed
Kasim Reed

In the last seven years, Georgia has seen real changes: More people now have health care coverage that allows them to get preventive coverage, lowers prescription costs, and allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plans. Our country has added millions of new jobs, stood strong against terrorism, and created a sweeping overhaul of our education system. We need a strong Democrat who can break down barriers for more people while building on Obama’s legacy, which is why I’m supporting Hillary Clinton.

Her opponent, Bernie Sanders, has opposed the President on issue after issue. In 2011, while still an Independent, he even called for a primary challenge to Obama. While he was in the House, Sanders’ gun control record contradicted what Obama supports today. Sanders’ record is simply not strong when compared to Obama and Clinton, both of whom have prioritized reducing gun violence in our cities and across our country.

At Tuesday’s town hall, Sanders fielded a question about Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I attended Howard University, and Atlanta is the proud home of Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta. The truth is that Sanders’ college plan would be a disaster for HBCUs, pulling students away and weakening these critically important institutions.

Clinton, in contrast, has made HBCUs a central focus of her campaign. She’s visited campuses across the country, and listened to students and to representatives like Bobby Scott of Virginia, who has introduced legislation that benefits HBCUs. She saw the central role these institutions play in advancing the lives of nearly 300,000 African-Americans each year. Her resulting College Compact earmarks funding specifically to HBCUs.

The HBCU case points to a larger contrast between these candidates: Sanders assumes his single-issue platform will help everyone, but only Clinton’s plans work from the ground up to identify and break down barriers unique to African-American families. For the single mother riding two buses to her second job, Sanders’ one-issue platform just doesn’t cut it. And for the poor child in Flint, Michigan, forced to drink tainted water from a government tap, Sanders’ Wall Street-focused message doesn’t carry weight.

Only Clinton sees the struggles facing people like these. As she recently told an audience in Harlem, “(M)ore than half a century after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. King marched and John Lewis bled, race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind.”

She’s the right choice for Atlanta, for Georgia, and for our entire country.

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