As early voting begins in the City of Atlanta, we are reminded of a song by DeBarge, “It was all a dream, a simple fantasy, that I wish was reality…”
The mayor’s race went into overdrive on May 6th when the city’s current mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, announced she would not seek reelection. With her decision, Bottoms became the first Atlanta mayor to not serve a second term since Sam Massell in 1973, after losing to Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr., the first Black mayor in the city’s history.
Bottoms faced constant run-ins with Governor Brian Kemp. It was equal parts tug-of-war, equal parts a study of toxic white masculinity as their disagreements on the handling of present-day issues like rising crime, the mask mandates surrounding the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Buckhead secession movement, and ease of voting access.
As of September 25th, homicides have increased 23% to 121 from 98 in 2020, according to Atlanta Police Department’s weekly crime report. From 2019, homicides have risen 65%. Aggravated assaults grew 17% to 1,850 from 1,582. Auto thefts and thefts from vehicles rose 18% to 6,083 from 5,174.
In 2020, the Atlanta Police Department investigated 157 homicide cases — the most in more than two decades. APD also has lost 600 officers since the death of Rayshard Brooks in June 2020. While citizens in Atlanta’s Black neighborhoods are reluctant of heavier police presence, safety has become the nexus of Buckhead seceding from the City of Atlanta.
“We feel we’re living in a war zone in Buckhead,” said leader of the Buckhead City movement, Bill White.
Antonio Brown, Andre Dickens, Sharon Gay, Felicia Moore and Kasim Reed each have dreams regarding what Atlanta could be if elected to be the next mayor. Over the past two months, The Atlanta Voice has interviewed each candidate as they laid out their visions for our city in tough, yet personable interviews.
Nearly five months prior to Bottoms’s decision, Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore announced her intentions on Jan. 20th as she filed paperwork that would allow her to raise funds for an upcoming mayoral campaign.
Moore has been a member of the Atlanta City Council for twenty years, serving as the leader of District Nine in the Collier Hills neighborhood. The last five council presidents before Moore, including Ceasar Mitchell, Lisa Borders, and Cathy Woolard each have run for mayor. None were successful.
Next, Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens announced his candidacy for mayor on May 13th. Dickens is a southwest Atlanta native and a graduate of Mays High School and Georgia Tech. He currently is chair of the council transportation committee.
Dickens currently serves as the Georgia Community Leader for TechBridge, a nonprofit that drives community impact by bringing affordable technology and business expertise to other nonprofit organizations.
After being elected to the Atlanta City Council Post 3 at Large in 2013, Dickens ran unopposed in 2017 and was subsequently re-elected.
During Dickens’s first term, he served as chair for the Public Safety & Legal Administration and Community Development & Human Services Committees and has served on the Code Enforcement & Budget Commissions as well as the Boards of the Atlanta Beltline, Invest Atlanta, and the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Following Dickens, Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown announced his intentions to run for mayor on Friday, May 14th. Brown represents District Three, which contains English Avenue, Vine City plus Atlantic Station, and West Midtown. Brown is known for his activism in social justice, speaking out for the marginalized and poor communities, advocating for the rights, safety, and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community seeks to “Reimagine Atlanta.”
“People are no longer asking for a seat at the table. They realized that they are the table, and elected officials are just invited guests to that table,” Brown explained during his announcement speech on May 15th.
If Brown, 36, wins, he would become the second-youngest mayor in Atlanta’s history. In 1974 Jackson was elected to office at the age of 36 years and eight months. Elected to the city council in 2019 to fill the late Ivory Lee Young’s seat, Brown has served less than a full term and before serving on the council was unknown politically in Atlanta.
Attorney Sharon A. Gay, who served as deputy chief of staff and executive counsel to former Mayor of Atlanta Bill Campbell and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, has also thrown her name into the hat. She promises to apply her experience with shaping public policy, land zoning and community involvement to improve the city.
Lastly, the 59th Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed entered the race July 27th saying, “I know how to fix crime, and I do know I could turn our crime environment around in 180 days, and I know that I’ve done it before.” In our interview, Reed spoke directly to the supporters of ‘Buckxit’ in our interview.
“What we have to do is in 180 to 240 days show people in Buckhead, and all through the city, that crime and violence was a moment in time and not a permanent condition,” Reed said.
Reed promptly raised $1 million within the first 20 days of his candidacy and has raised more than $2.8 million according to his latest filing.
As we prepare to embark upon election season, the silly season replete with antics and negative ads will begin its crescendo.
Tuesday, a text message that was implied to be sent by the Fulton County Republican Party, seemingly endorsed Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore’s campaign. Moore was photographed with Republican Burt Jones, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor and staunch ally of Donald J. Trump and chief sponsor of Buckhead cityhood legislation.
The Andre Dickens and Kasim Reed Campaigns have denied any involvement in the text messages. Also, the Fulton County Republican Party says they do not endorse candidates and the real flier was for an October 9th meet and greet.
In all, there are fourteen people running for mayor. Eleven of the fourteen candidates have submitted responses to our questionnaires, which can be found on our #ElectionCentral landing page on TheAtlantaVoice.com. We also have profiles on the candidates for Atlanta City Council President and selected Council seats.
Election Day is November 2nd. Georgia rules specify if a candidate does not surpass the 50 percent plus one threshold (an outright majority), a runoff election will be held for the top two finishers. If there is a runoff election, it will be scheduled for November 30th.