ROSWELL, Ga – A longtime local mayor is taking some heat after making some controversial comments about a 6th congressional district candidate.
On Friday, Roswell Mayor Jere Wood was quoted in “The New Yorker” that Democrat Jon Ossoff has “an ethnic-sounding name.”
"If someone is going down the list, they're gonna vote for somebody who is familiar,” Wood, a Republican, said. “If you just say 'Ossoff,' some folks are gonna think, 'Is he Muslim? Is he Lebanese? Is he Indian?' It's an ethnic-sounding name, even though he may be a white guy, from Scotland or wherever."
But Wood pointed out Ossoff’s sign in front of his Roswell law office when 11Alive spoke to the mayor on Monday. Wood praised Ossoff’s campaign, and said his comments were not “taken the way I meant them, that's for sure."
Wood said he was trying to make the point that Ossoff didn’t initially have name recognition, but does now.
"I think the comments were unfortunate and the mayor has walked them back a bit now,” said Ossoff. “I appreciate that. People really want to hear a positive message."
Wood said he was answering a question about a name being an advantage or disadvantage.
"Barack Obama showed us that a name can be an advantage," Wood said, who added the most important consideration is what a candidate plans to do for his city.
The special election to replace Tom Price, who is now President Donald Trump’s secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is set for April 18. A total of 18 candidates will appear on one ballot, and a runoff is virtually assured in the race.
The district includes portions of Atlanta, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Dunwoody, Doraville, Tucker, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Alpharetta, Johns Creek Milton and Mountain Park. Before it was last redrawn as part of Census reapportionment, Republicans Newt Gingrich and Johnny Isakson held the seat.