After promising voters that he would help steer the city in a more egalitarian path throughout the campaign, Andre Dickens, a senior City Council member, was elected mayor of Atlanta in an upset victory on Tuesday night.
Having won the runoff election on Tuesday, Mr. Dickens, 47, will take over one of the most high-profile political posts in the South, having defeated Felicia Moore, 60, the current City Council president, in the first round.
Ms. Moore held a significant lead against Mr. Dickens in the first round of voting, winning by more than 17 percentage points. Mr. Dickens, on the other hand, received almost 62 percent of the vote when The Associated Press pronounced him the winner at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
During his victory address to supporters, Mr. Dickens, a church deacon, spoke of his modest beginnings in the working-class area of Adamsville, his engineering degree from Georgia Tech, and the challenging challenges he has committed to take on as governor.
Atlanta was in the midst of a period of promise and risk as the mayor’s election unfolded. The city’s population has increased by 17 percent in the last decade, to approximately 499,000 people, and a number of major technology companies are expanding their operations in the city in an effort to increase diversity, given that nearly half of the city’s residents are African-American or Latino.
As further homicides shook the city, public safety emerged as the most important topic in the mayor’s campaign, providing an early advantage to former Mayor Kasim Reed, who said that his background made him particularly prepared to address the city’s crime problem. Reed was defeated in the election. In addition to his enormous political baggage, Mr. Reed, who departed office in 2018, carried with him a number of officials of his administration who had either been found guilty of or prosecuted on federal corruption-related crimes during his tenure.
Mr. Reed’s troubled background was almost certainly a role in the unexpected conclusion of the first round of voting, in which Mr. Dickens edged over the more well-known Mr. Reed to earn a position in the runoff against Ms. Moore, who finished top in the first round of voting.
Since then, Mr. Dickens and Ms. Moore have worked hard to separate themselves from one another in the nonpartisan campaign, despite the fact that they are both liberal Democrats who support many of the same policy objectives.
Both candidates were particularly vocal in their opposition to a contentious proposal to enable Buckhead, an upmarket, majority-white suburb in Atlanta, to secede from the city, taking with it a significant portion of the city’s tax revenue. To proceed with a possible divorce, which has been spurred by crime worries, consent from the Republican-controlled State Legislature and a subsequent vote of the neighborhood’s inhabitants would be required. If the plan is to be derailed, the future mayor will need to utilise his or her bully pulpit and participate in swift and deliberate lobbying of Republicans who now control the Statehouse.
When it came to the campaign, Ms. Moore, a real estate agent, played up her image as someone who had been a thorn in the side of prior mayors such as Mr. Reed. She maintained that he should be held responsible for the wrongdoing that occurred under his watch before he was forced to resign. She reminded voters that she supported legislation that would have established a new inspector general for City Hall as well as an independent compliance agency, both in response to the scandals that plagued the previous Reed administration.
He works as the chief development officer at TechBridge, a nonprofit organisation that utilises technology to assist other NGOs in their efforts to raise awareness and funds. During the campaign, he stressed his participation in raising the minimum salary for city workers, as well as his role in championing the development of a transportation department for the municipality. Mr. Dickens, who has received the endorsements of Mayor Bottoms and former Mayor Shirley Franklin, has claimed in recent weeks that Ms. Moore has spent more time criticising others than she has spent accumulating her own accomplishments over the course of her lengthy career.
Ms. Moore and Mr. Dickens are both of African descent. Despite a recent influx of white residents that has caused the share of Black residents to decline from a slight majority to 47 percent of the population, according to an analysis of 2020 Census figures, Tuesday’s election extends a streak of Black mayors in Atlanta dating back to the election of Maynard Jackson in 1973.