This was posted Tuesday, June 20, 2017 by Rodney Hofirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Former V-103 and WAOK-AM talk show host Mo Ivory had been thinking about running for office for a long time, but Donald Trump’s presidency pushed her into action.
She is now running for Atlanta City Council District 1 and held a fundraiser hosted by V-103 host Frank Ski this past weekend at a local restaurant. She is competing against a well-established incumbent Carla Smith, who has held the post for 16 years. Smith represents neighborhoods such as Grant Park, Summerhill and Glenwood Park. She is up for re-election this November.
In January 2017, when I found myself wondering if I would have healthcare in the next 60 days, or if my child who is in college would have student loan money available for her at an HBCU, or if my 104 year-old immigrant Mexican grandmother understood the “wall” debate, I nestled down on my sofa in Atlanta and decided Hillary Clinton’s loss was a win for women everywhere.
That’s when I decided to run for public office.
In an interview in her fundraiser’s office last week, Ivory said she visited President Barack Obama in the White House in 2014 and felt that was a transformative moment. “I just feel very grateful I got to see what that was like from the inside,” she said, “which only gave me a better idea how much our country needs sane logical people to be elected office. I was so excited for the opportunity to be at the White House. Now I feel like that day is so gone and things are so different.”
She said she plans to be a leader that talks about “things that are real and can happen rather than a bunch of talking points based on one hour of research. That’s what Trump did and people were silly enough to fall for it. From Trump, I’ve learned that you need to be prepared and how important it is to have good advisors. And how not to be so self important.” (In other words, he’s the anti-example for her.)
Ivory has lived in the Grant Park neighborhood for much of the past 30 years. She moved there as a teenager when housing was far more affordable.
She has no specific issue with Smith, her current representative. She just feels she can do a better job. “I bring a completely new set of ideas and talents,” she said. “I’m results oriented. I’m involved in the community and have always been.” She prides herself on her integrity and hard work. She hopes to address issues like crime and economic development as well as gentrification.
Ski, who worked with her at WHUR-FM in D.C. in 2014 and 2015, said she would make a great politician: “She is a super smart lawyer and negotiator. She’s worked from the bottom up… Her public service record is high. She’s been a voice on radio and CNN for the people that needed it. She is more connected than many others running.”
“She has seen gentrification from the start,” he added. “And she knows how to make it work for everyone. Atlanta is changing. And she is that change.”
Ivory herself said she’s talked about politics so long, “I feel I’m very well versed on the issues. It’s time for someone like me to put that to work.”
She said her husband Robert, an engineer, is fully on board with her decision to run along with the rest of her family. “My 15-year-old step-son does social media,” she said. “My 19 year old is working on campaign design and photography. I have my whole family involved in the effort. My husband drives or puts up with whatever. It’s a family affair.”
There are a lot of people chasing after City Council and mayoral jobs, she said. So she realizes fundraising is going to be a challenge since many folks are going after the same sources for money. But she has no issue fundraising and hopes to reach the six figures.
Ivory, 48, was raised in New York City, the daughter of a Dominican mom and raised in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood. Only when she arrived at Spelman College in 1987 did she embrace her African-American roots. “In New York, it was no big deal to be half Hispanic, half black. In Atlanta, it was black or white. I learned that quickly,” Ivory said.
She loved Spelman: “It prepared me completely for life.”
After that, she attended Temple University Law School and got her first radio job. She moved to California, married and had a daughter while working as a lawyer. In 1999, she returned to Atlanta for stints at King & Spalding and Scientific Atlanta. Around 2004, she decided to work in residential construction. By then, she had divorced.
After the market started cratering in 2007, she volunteered for the Obama presidential campaign. She was assigned to go to radio stations and talk about legalities regarding voting rights and civic engagement. She created Mo’s Voting Bus. “I raised enough money to take 12,000 students to vote,” she said.
After a foray back to New York working at a record label, she got a talk show on WAOK-AM around 2011. She would also make appearances on the Frank and Wanda’s V-103 morning show talking politics. “I have always tried to make hard concepts easy to understand and speak in plain language,” she said.
After Frank left, she joined Ryan Cameron’s morning show for a year. But ratings didn’t match expectations and she, Crash Clark and Kendra G were dropped in favor of the return of Smith.
Ivory ended up co-hosting with Ski in D.C.’s WHUR-FM for a couple of years but kept her residence in Grant Park. “It was majorly exciting” to be in D.C., she said, during the Obama presidency. “We had a basic open door to events and communications with what was going on at the White House. Frank was hugely instrumental in his relationships.”
She has been doing contract law work since that radio stint ended two years ago but is now focused exclusively on this campaign.