- A crowded field of 14 candidates is vying to get elected as Atlanta’s next mayor.
- The leading contenders include former Mayor Kasim Reed and several city councilors.
- Polls in Atlanta closed at 8 pm ET. Follow along for live results.
What’s at stake:
Fourteen candidates are vying to replace outgoing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Bottoms, who was elected in 2017 and quickly distinguished herself as a power player in Georgia and national politics, surprised many observers when she announced in May that she wouldn’t seek another term.
In declining to run for a second term, Bottoms joined a national trend of mayors, burnt out from shepherding their cities through the COVID-19 pandemic and tumultuous civil unrest in 2020, heading for the exits.
Citing people close to Bottoms, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the mayor declined to run for another term “because she felt her motivation sapping.”
The top contenders to succeed Bottoms are former two-term Mayor Kasim Reed, City Council President Felicia Moore, council members Andre Dickens and Antonio Brown, and attorney Sharon Gay, according to the Journal-Constitution. The race doesn’t have an obvious frontrunner.
The most recent poll of the race, conducted by the University of Georgia and commissioned by the Journal-Constitution, found Moore narrowly leading with 24% of the vote compared to Reed’s 20%, but 41% of voters are still undecided. The survey, conducted from October 6-20, had a margin of error of ±3.5 points.
If no candidate wins a majority of over 50% of the vote, the top-two performers will advance to a November 30 runoff election.
Reed, in making his case for another term as mayor, has focused heavily on crime.
In 2020, there were 157 homicides in Atlanta, a sharp increase from the 99 killings recorded in 2019. As of October 25, the city has recorded 132 homicides this year, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Atlanta, long the economic powerhouse of the South, has for decades attracted new residents from across the country, and Reed, who served in office from 2010 to 2018, has been thoroughly frustrated by what he sees as a backslide in the city’s fortunes.
“The level of crime and violence is just at unacceptable levels and it’s fracturing our city in a way that I haven’t seen in my lifetime,” he said during a April radio interview before he jumped into the race in June.
Reed has pledged to add 750 new officers to the Atlanta Police Department and to work with state and local leaders to hire additional judges to reduce the prosecutorial backlog fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.
A movement by the affluent Buckhead neighborhood to form its own city has also rattled Reed and business leaders who argue that public safety concerns are threatening Atlanta’s financial health.
In August, the real estate and economic development consultant KB Advisory Group issued a report, which found that Atlanta would lose $80 million to $116 million annually if Buckhead residents vote next year to create their own city.
But Reed’s potential City Hall comeback has generated its share of controversy, with his opponents pointing to the federal corruption investigation that ensnared several aides who served in his administration.
However, Reed has not been charged with a crime and his personal attorneys told the Journal-Constitution in October that he is not under federal investigation.
Moore, who served as a city council member for 20 years before becoming its president in 2018, has also focused on public safety, pointing to her work with the city’s municipal employee pension reform, which she said saved thousands of positions.
Last month, she released a comprehensive anti-crime plan that emphasized community policing and aimed to provide incentives to hire new police officers.