If the Atlanta Mayoral runoff race is the main course, the Atlanta City Council runoff races are the all-important side dishes. The citywide Post 3 At-Large position and the City Council President race are the two positions that possess the power to shape the eventual mayor’s agenda, beginning December 1.

First, the City Council President’s race features Natalyn Archibong. For all intents and purposes, Archibong is the incumbent as she has served on the City Council for 20 years, in Post 5. Archibong is a graduate of Atlanta Public Schools and received her law degree from the University of Georgia. During the Nov. 16 debate, Archibong cast herself as the candidate who can get things accomplished. However, she was asked if she’s a rubber-stamp for Mayors Shirley Franklin, Kasim Reed and Keisha Lance Bottoms.

“With those wedge issues that we will need to have council members who understand that they have a duty to be responsive to the community that allows them to represent them,” Archibong said. “And through my twenty year old city council stint, I have taken far courageous votes because of concerns around the leaving the communities behind has largely been one of the drivers for me. And so knowing that you can after you vote no, you can still serve, you can still be effective.”

Challenging Archibong is businessman Doug Shipman. Shipman was the founding CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and was formerly the CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center. A self-proclaimed Democrat, Shipman believes he is the breath of fresh air that’s needed within City Hall.

“I’ve been across Atlanta in the last eight months across neighborhoods, knocking on doors and meeting people in their backyards,” Shipman said. “They have expressed their frustration and the fact that they’re tired of waiting, waiting for our city to be affordable, waiting for transit to be built, waiting for things to happen. I think The record that we see from my opponent is one up not making things happen and it is time for fresh leadership so that we actually get things done for our city.”

The other citywide runoff race features Keisha Waites and Jacki Labat. Labat is a rookie to politics, but she’s been around government and business for the majority of her professional life. Her husband, Pat, is the current Fulton County Sheriff. Labat promises to be transparent in her affairs if elected.

“I do believe that we need to engage our ethics department and I believe it’s the new ethics division that Mayor Bottoms put in place,” Labat said. “I think that from the prior administration through now, accountability and transparency in the workplace, especially with respect to campaigns is paramount. And in my case, I have a great deal of support from both the city of Atlanta Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, and we like to ensure that we have documented paid leave slips on file prior to any service on a campaign, but I think that it should be very transparent as well.”

Atlanta is made up of 240 neighborhoods, which are then grouped into 25 neighborhood planning units (NPUs). The NPUs are the official avenue for residents to express concerns and provide input in developing plans to address the needs of each neighborhood, as well as to receive updates from City government.

Waites said the NPUs have lost their teeth, citing the lack of engagement with the community regarding the Atlanta Police training facility. She promises to realign the NPU system with the City Council to foster effective communication.

“I believe that we have to bring them more into the conversation,” Waites said. “I think that anytime that you’re going to take a very serious look. But, we have to look at impact statements from the community, as well as strengthen the NPU process. And so I would be fully in support of any policy or legislation that will strengthen that process.”

Conversely, Labat promises to be present and wants the public to hold her accountable in the NPU meetings.

“I feel that as a city wide council person, I need a footprint across all 12 districts throughout all of the NPUs,” Labat said. “There’s 52 weeks in the year and 25 NPUs, why can’t I be there at least twice?”

Both races, City Council President and Post 3 At-Large, will be decided on Tuesday, November 30th.

Jacki Labat, left, and Keisha Waites, participate in the Atlanta Press Club debate series at Georgia Public Broadcasting studios on Tuesday, November 16, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Mitch Leff)

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...