Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Kasim Reed


Stan Kaady

Kasim Reed spends a lot of time thinking about the next guy. Not that the Atlanta mayor has plans to leave office anytime soon; he was elected to his first term just two years ago. Nonetheless, Reed puts considerable energy into planning for his successor. It was that mindset that compelled Reed to address Atlanta’s looming pension crisis head-on. The city’s retirement plan had plummeted from 99 percent funded in 2001 to 51 percent funded by 2009 -- a $1.5 billion problem. “This was going to blow up at some time, either while I was in office or shortly after I got out,” Reed says. “I could have duct-taped it and escaped. But it was going to explode on a new mayor.”

Reed engineered a major overhaul of the city’s pension plan for new hires as well as existing employees, shifting to a defined-contribution plan and increasing workers’ contributions by 5 percent across the board. Under intense pressure from Reed, the City Council approved the new plan 15-0 in June. The overhaul -- along with other fiscal reforms the mayor has achieved -- puts the city on its soundest fiscal footing in a generation. Reed has reopened community centers and pools, added 100 new police officers to city streets and even instituted a modest pay raise for police and firefighters. At the same time, the city’s reserves have grown from $7.4 million to more than $70 million by the end of this year.

Reed is a Democrat, but his pragmatic, bipartisan approach -- which he attributes to his 11 years in the state Legislature -- has earned accolades from leaders on both sides of the aisle. Reed “genuinely puts what’s in the best interest of the city or the state ahead of politics,” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Republican, told Roll Call earlier this year. “I think that’s really the defining attribute of a statesman.”

His successes in Atlanta have garnered national attention, but Reed says he’s turning his focus to “quieter achievements,” like instituting a 311 customer service system and increasing on-time trash pickup. And, of course, thinking about his successor. “I believe a lot of the work I’m doing is really for the next mayor,” he says. “At some point, there’s going to be a mayor in this office when our economy gets back to the 2008 level. And when it does, the mayor will have a government that is leaner, more efficient and built for the future.”

— Zach Patton
Photo by Stan Kaady

Mayor Reed has become a national figure, speaking about his achievements and challenges he and his colleagues face. In this clip, he appeared on a roundtable on NBC's Meet the Press as part of a roundtable discussion.

Tina Trenkner is the Deputy Editor for She edits the Technology and Health newsletters.
Special Projects
Sponsored Stories
In this episode, Marianne Steger explains why health care for Pre-Medicare retirees and active employees just got easier.
Government organizations around the world are experiencing the consequences of plagiarism firsthand. A simple mistake can lead to loss of reputation, loss of trust and even lawsuits. It’s important to avoid plagiarism at all costs, and government organizations are held to a particularly high standard. Fortunately, technological solutions such as iThenticate allow government organizations to avoid instances of text plagiarism in an efficient manner.
Creating meaningful citizen experiences in a post-COVID world requires embracing digital initiatives like secure and ethical data sharing, artificial intelligence and more.
GHD identified four themes critical for municipalities to address to reach net-zero by 2050. Will you be ready?
As more state and local jurisdictions have placed a priority on creating sustainable and resilient communities, many have set strong targets to reduce the energy use and greenhouse gases (GHGs) associated with commercial and residential buildings.
As more people get vaccinated and states begin to roll back some of the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic — schools, agencies and workplaces are working on a plan on how to safely return to normal.
The solutions will be a permanent part of government even after the pandemic is over.
See simple ways agencies can improve the citizen engagement experience and make online work environments safer without busting the budget.
Whether your agency is already a well-oiled DevOps machine, or whether you’re just in the beginning stages of adopting a new software development methodology, one thing is certain: The security of your product is a top-of-mind concern.