ATLANTA -- The race to become Atlanta's next mayor is getting new momentum this Labor Day, the traditional start of fall campaigning.

The Atlanta's mayor's race features a crowded field of candidates and one unusual wild card.

There was councilwoman Mary Norwood, spending part of her Labor Day knocking on doors in Midtown. There's council president Ceasar Mitchell, pressing the flesh at Labor Day barbecue at a union hall near Hapeville.

And former council president Cathy Woolard and former state senator Vincent Fort art the same union hall. In a race with an abundance of serious candidates, vote-seeking can be a challenge.

"It's a very crowded field. So it's more work to figure out who to support. But ultimately it's good," said Peter Aman, a former city exec also running for mayor.

But the loudest voice in the campaign may be that of Kasim Reed, the incumbent mayor who can't run again. Reed has been bitterly critical of former Fulton Co. commission chairman John Eaves, plus Mitchell, Norwood, Fort and Woolard.

Asked if Reed's wrath is a badge of honor, Woolard chuckled. "At this point I think it is," she said. "But I don't relish it. I don't pick fights."

Fort also downplayed the incumbent mayor's involvement in the campaign. "It''s not about who likes who and who doesn't like who. It's about whether or not city hall is going to work for working people," Fort said.

By contrast, Reed has talked up councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms. He's also spared Kwanza Hall and Peter Aman his wrath. Aman worked in Reed's administration.

"I'm appreciative of any support I can get from anybody. Also I'm appreciative when I'm not in the news in any form or fashion," Aman said.

Norwood ran against Reed in 2009 and came within about 700 votes of beating him. Last week, Reed's office issued a press release deeply critical of Norwood. She says she prefers not to nitpick Reed's administration, however. "I don't live life backwards. I only live in fast forward," she said.