Dressed in blue and accompanied by her husband, Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat, Jacki Labat strode into her election night watch party inside the lobby of 1150 West Peachtree with a smile on her face. At 11 p.m. with a large majority of the votes counted and the lead in her opponent Keisha Waites’ favor, she was still smiling.
“I never thought I would be here. Even before the general election, I had given so much of myself, I have no regrets,” Labat said.
At midnight the final results rolled in, Waites had prevailed by 53% of the vote with nearly 4,000 more votes. The final count will read 36,263-32,758, but Labat felt like there was an air of success around this runoff. Once a longshot to win newly-elected Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ former seat, Labat reached the final night of an election with a legit chance of winning.
“It went from a crazy idea to a good idea,” Labat said about her candidacy.
During the party she shared a story of working on her husband’s recent campaign for sheriff and how that political bug bit her.
“I had been marinating on what I wanted to do next [in my career],” Labat said of the aftermath of her husband’s successful race for sheriff. “This was more of a thing where we could be in each other’s universe. It was organic, and there has been so much support.”
A lot of that support system was on hand for the watch party, occasionally looking up at mounted flat screen television screens around the room in order to check results. Waites never trailed, leading with a slim margin as early as 8:20 p.m., little over an hour after the polls closed.
Around 11 p.m. Labat was asked how she felt and said, “I am comfortable with however this turns out. This campaign has been grueling, but I feel good.”
Her husband said of the waiting game that was taking place before the final tally was called, “It’s hurry up and wait, right? She’s excited, we’re excited, I’m just glad she’s enjoying this night.”
Asked if there were other political aspirations, Labat smiled a wry smile. She never thought she’d be in position to run for political office in the first place, so anything’s possible. “One of the things that appealed to me about this opportunity was public service,” said Labat, a Hampton University grad whose late mother was an educator.
“Either way this goes it’s more of a defining moment for Atlanta than for me.”