It is official – Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms has likely been elected to serve as the 60th Mayor of Atlanta. She came out ahead of Councilwoman Mary Norwood by a nearly identical margin as Mayor Kasim Reed did in 2009, a margin that currently sits at 759 votes. There are provisional ballots which have yet to be counted in Fulton (351 ballots) and DeKalb County (189), though even in the unlikely event that 100% of those ballots go to Norwood, it would not be enough to close the gap. A demand for a recount has already been made by the Norwood campaign, but there is no reason to think the outcome will be any different than the recount in 2009.
Assuming everything was counted accurately at the polls on Tuesday, Bottoms will become only the second woman to serve as Mayor of Atlanta following Shirley Franklin’s tenure. Her victory was far from assured – polling conducted mere days before the election put her six points behind Norwood. Despite the fact that only two candidates were in the runoff, Bottoms also found herself facing off against four of her previous opponents as well – Cathy Woolard, Peter Aman, Ceasar Mitchell, and John Eaves all endorsed Norwood. It was a hard fought race for the Bottoms campaign, and they were wise to not take a single vote for granted.
Her victory also means the 138-year streak of Democratic leadership in Atlanta will continue, a fact not lost on the Democratic Party of Georgia, which came out in force for her over the last month. Democrats from the local to national level all came out in support of Bottoms, recognizing the need for strong Democratic leadership in one of America’s greatest cities. At a time when President Donald Trump spends every day further denigrating the GOP brand, the possibility of someone with so many Republican ties in City Hall was simply deemed too great a risk for many Atlanta citizens.
Now comes the difficult part of uniting and leading. Bottoms repeatedly promised on to be a different kind of leader on the campaign trail, one who will spend more time on collaboration and compromise. Given how close the election was, that will be of the utmost necessity.
The good news is that both candidates had nearly identical platforms focused on infrastructure spending, addressing gentrification, finding innovative solutions to the housing crisis, and ethical reform at City Hall. There is a vision for Atlanta that is shared amongst all of us who cast our votes in this election, and it is of a city that is inclusive, equitable, and with a little less traffic. With Bottoms at the helm, I am confident that the future of this city is in very safe hands.