By The Associated Press
ATLANTA — City Council member Andre Dickens won a runoff election Tuesday to become Atlanta’s next mayor, riding a surge of support that powered him past the council’s current president, Felicia Moore, after finishing second to her in November.
Dickens won a campaign dominated by concern over rising violent crime in the city, arguing he would be more effective than Moore, who had often been a sometimes-lonely critic of previous mayors in her 20 years on the City Council. Moore had been the leading candidate by a wide margin in the first round of voting on Nov. 2 among 14 candidates in a nonpartisan race.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms created a wide-open succession race when she announced in May that she wouldn’t seek a second term.
The 47-year-old Dickens, an Atlanta native and engineer by training, joined the council in 2013. He argued that his broad range of experience would allow him to address crime and other city issues including affordable housing and improving opportunity for poorer residents. Other issues in the race included bolstering struggling city services and keeping the wealthy Buckhead neighborhood from seceding.
“We voted for progress and a problem solver, for a bridge builder, for transformation,” Dickens told a crowd of hundreds during his victory speech Tuesday night. “And this work will start right now. We can’t wait any longer to address these issues.”
Dickens went from trailing the pack to take second on Nov. 2 and make the runoff, ending the comeback attempt of two-term former Mayor Kasim Reed, who finished third. That snowballing support continued in the runoff, with endorsements by Bottoms, U.S. Rep. and Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Nikema Williams, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Sharon Gay, an attorney who finished fourth in Nov. 2 voting.
“I draw circles, I don’t draw lines,” Dickens said. “And the circle tonight got real large.”
Like many cities across the country, Atlanta has been dealing with a spike in killings. As of Nov. 13, homicides rose 10 percent over the same period last year and 57 percent compared with 2019, Atlanta police data shows. Several of those killings captured widespread attention.
Dickens has pledged to increase the number of police officers, arrest gang leaders and implement community policing. He says he may keep current Police Chief Rodney Bryant, who came out of retirement in 2020 after a previous chief stepped down following a fatal police shooting of a Black man that led to unrest.
Dickens also wants to increase affordable housing, improve infrastructure and ensure current residents qualify for high-paying jobs. He acknowledged the city’s problems Tuesday night, but then pivoted to optimism about the city’s ability to change.
“Like they say, Atlanta influences everything,” Dickens said. “And it’s time that we use that influence to make some real change. Atlanta needs to show the world that we are leading, that we are leading on public safety, on criminal justice reform, that we are leading on affordable housing and eliminating the inequality that we have.”
Moore, 60, made a call for unity in her concession speech, saying there’s no difference between her supporters and Dickens’ because “we’re all camp Atlanta.”
Last modified: February 24, 2022