Atlanta native Keisha Lance Bottoms took the oath of office on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, becoming the 60th mayor in the history of Atlanta, and just the second woman to hold the office. Bottoms also is the first Atlanta Public Schools’ alumnus to hold the office as well.
Bottoms was sworn in at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on the campus of Morehouse College to a packed auditorium of thousands.
Among those who attended the three-hour ceremony were former mayors Andrew Young, Sam Massell, and Bill Campbell. Civil Rights legend John Lewis also attended the ceremony.
Longtime Bottoms supporter Tip “T.I.” Harris, his wife Tiny and family joined Bottoms’ family in the audience.
In a half-hour inaugural address, Bottoms promised a cleanup of City Hall and a major investment in improving Atlanta’s housing.
“On the night of the runoff, I spoke of ‘Black girl magic.’ Black girl magic is something I have experienced throughout my life, and experienced daily during our campaign,” she said. “I truly believe it was the energy and inspiration of generations of ‘black girl magic. that fueled our victory.
“We now have a new challenge in front of us. We must expand that magic and create an Atlanta magic in every community, school, and workplace across this great city. It is imperative that we be united,” she continued.
Bottoms’ additional priorities included improving education, public safety, public transit and unifying the city of Atlanta.
“I want to thank all of Atlanta and each and every one of you here today, for your support and encouragement and your faith in me,” Bottoms said. “Only in Atlanta could a girl named Keisha, who attended Frederick Douglass High School on the west side, grow up to become the 60th mayor of the great city of Atlanta.”
Also sworn in on Tuesday were the new City Council president, Felicia Moore, and the rest of the city council as well as the 10 members of the Atlanta Municipal Court.
Bottoms, only the second woman to lead the city of Atlanta, defeated Mary Norwood in a runoff in December.
Norwood requested a recount after initial certified voting totals showed her losing to Bottoms by 832 votes, a margin of less than 1 percent.
Two weeks after the heated runoff race between Bottoms and Norwood, Norwood conceded in a YouTube video in which she asserted there were irregularities in the election — sentiments similar to her 2009 bid for mayor against Reed.
During her inaugural, she vowed to clean up corruption at City Hall and to be the mayor for all of Atlanta.
Who is Keisha Bottoms?
Bottoms, 47, is the daughter of Sylvia Robinson and the late R&B singer Major Lance known for his song “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um.” She lives in Southwest Atlanta with her husband, Derek W. Bottoms, and their four children – Lance, Langston, Lincoln, and Lennox.
Bottoms is an attorney and former magistrate judge. She has a Bachelor’s in communications from Florida A&M University and a law degree from Georgia State University.
She was elected to Atlanta City Council in 2009 and re-elected in 2013, representing District 11, which covers a large portion of southwest Atlanta. Outgoing Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed endorsed her to succeed him as the city’s next mayor.
She was executive director of Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, which has maintained public facilities including Philips Arena, Zoo Atlanta, and the Olympic cauldron, from 2015 until she stepped down in April.
In that role, Bottoms helped broker the $30 million sale of Turner Field and surrounding parking lots to Georgia State University and private development group Carter.
Bottoms served on the boards of The Children’s School, the Firefighters’ Pension Fund, Atlanta Mayoral Board of Service, the Andrew and Walter Young YMCA, Central Atlanta Progress, YWCA of Atlanta, CURE for Childhood Cancer, the Atlanta Cyclorama Task Force and Ben Hill United Methodist Church, and is a member of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights – Women’s Solidarity Society.
She also serves on the Board of Families First, where she shares her personal story of adoption, and advocates on behalf of adoption and foster care.
Bottoms’ commitment to community and public service has been recognized by the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers. She was previously honored with The Trailblazer Award for Outstanding Community Service, the Community Service Icon Award, and the Keeper of the Dream Award. She is also an alumna of Leadership Atlanta.
According to her official bio, she is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, the Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, the Dogwood City Chapter of The Links, Inc. and the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
‘In Atlanta, our magic is intentionality’
Bottoms began her inaugural speech by sharing with the audience that it was “one of the happiest moments of my life.”
And then she thanked the many members of her support system: her husband, her children, her mother, other family members, volunteers, team members, the faith-based community and the public.
Bottoms gave special thanks to her predecessor Mayor Kasim Reed and his wife Sarah Elizabeth: “Thank you for your unwavering support and outstanding stewardship of our City over the last eight years. … But, before he leaves, please join me in a round of applause for the 59th Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed.
Then, for the next 30 or so minutes, Bottoms laid out her plan for what she called, “ONE Atlanta” — a unified Atlanta that built on her campaign theme, “Keep Atlanta moving forward, leaving no one behind.”
With an Audre Lord quote — “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences, — Bottoms set up the announcement of a $1 billion-dollar affordability plan to create equity and provide an opportunity for Atlantans.
“It will be the largest affordable housing investment in our city’s history,” she said. “We have done our due diligence for eight years to put Atlanta’s finances in a strong place. Now we must maintain that solvency as a runway where everyone can take flight to achieve their dreams.”
Further, Bottoms laid out a plan to introduce “the most sweeping ethics and transparency reform package in our city’s history.” The plan is to require lobbyists to register with the city and will also require increased disclosure from elected officials, including the release of their tax returns.
The plan will also clean up the procurement process. Bottoms’ transition team plans to hire procurement experts to conduct a review of the City’s purchasing department and recommend changes to “ensure taxpayers feel confident city contracts are awarded on merit and merit only.”
Another priority, Bottoms discussed, was the importance of a stronger relationship with the Atlanta public school system.
“As our City continues to grow and attract new residents, young families are going to want to move into communities with great schools,” she said. “Great schools should not be an option for the wealthy but for all who call Atlanta home.
“While the City government does not run our school system, we cannot ignore our moral responsibility—education can and must be our priority,” she continued. “As Mayor, I will appoint a Chief Education Officer to my senior staff. This (officer) will address everything from early childhood education to our partnership with Atlanta Public Schools to vocational training and apprenticeships.”