Councilman Andre Dickens wins Atlanta mayor race

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City Council member Andre Dickens won a runoff election Tuesday to become Atlanta’s next mayor, leaving him behind the council’s current president, Felicia Moore, after finishing second in November.

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Dickens won a campaign of concern over rising violent crime in the city, arguing that he would be more effective than Moore, who had often been the sometimes lone critic of previous mayors in his 20 years on the city council. Moore was the leading candidate out of 14 candidates in a nonpartisan race by a wide margin in the first round of voting on November 2.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms created a wide-open succession race when she announced in May that she would not seek a second term.

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Dickens, 47, an Atlanta native and engineer by training, joined the council in 2013. He argued that his extensive experience would allow him to address crime and other issues in the city, including improving affordable housing and opportunities for poor residents. Other issues in the race included strengthening struggling city services and preventing the alienation of the wealthy Buckhead neighborhood.

“We voted for change, for the bridge-builder, for progress and problem-solving,” Dickens told a crowd of hundreds during his victory speech on Tuesday night. “And this work will just begin. We can’t wait to resolve these issues.”

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Dickens went on to finish second on November 2, leaving the pack behind and ending the comeback effort of two-time former mayor Kasim Reid, who finished third. Snowballing support continued into the runoff, with the support of Bottoms, U.S. Representative and Democratic Party of Georgia President Nikema Williams, Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis and Sharon Gay, an attorney who finished fourth in the November 2 vote.

“I draw circles, I don’t draw lines,” Dickens said. “And the circle got a lot bigger tonight.”

Like many cities across the country, Atlanta is also dealing with a rise in homicides. Data from Atlanta Police shows that as of November 13, homicides have increased by 10% compared to the same period last year, and by 57% compared to 2019. many of those murders attracted wide attention,

Dickens has vowed to increase the number of police officers, arrest gang leaders, and implement community policing. He says he can keep current police chief Rodney Bryant, who came out of retirement in 2020 after a former chief stepped down after a fatal police shooting of a black man that caused unrest.

Dickens wants to increase affordable housing, improve infrastructure and ensure current residents are qualified for high-paying jobs. He acknowledged the city’s problems on Tuesday night, but then prompted optimism about the city’s ability to turn.

“As they say, Atlanta affects everything,” Dickens said. “And it is time we use that influence to make some real change. Atlanta needs to show the world that we are moving forward, that we are moving forward on public safety, criminal justice reform, that We are moving forward on affordable housing and eliminating the inequality we have.

Moore, 60, called for unity in his concession speech, saying there was no difference between his supporters and Dickens because “we are all Atlanta camps.”

“We should be called to do the work we wanted everyone to do, and it brings this town closer together,” Moore said, noting specifically to Buckhead residents working with Dickens. And for Dickens to make sure he grants access. to all groups.

Alexander Dawes, a 25-year-old black man, said he voted for Dickens at the Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church on Tuesday. Dawes said Dickens’ transparency — and his stance on public safety — were key factors in his decision.

He said that getting more officers on the streets is only part of the solution.

“I think there are many approaches to addressing crime,” Dawes said. “Of course, staffing is important, but officers are also present in the community. It is important to build back that trust between the police and the community.”

Jennifer and Joe Moyers, both 60, said they voted for Moore. Jennifer Moyers said she was the candidate who focused the most on curbing crime.

Some of Moore’s critics attack him as a favorite of white voters, a consistent tactic in a city where many white and black voters are divided by income and geography. Moore and Dickens are both black. Moore rejected the notion that his support should be against him.

Moore touts his record for appealing to change-hungry voters and positioning himself as the man who brought accountability and transparency to City Hall. But Dickens portrayed Moore as a negative person and someone who has been unable to work with others.

Dickens currently works for TechBridge, a non-profit organization that seeks to use technology to help other charitable groups. Dickens also established a program to train people for technology work, trying to broaden access to high-paying jobs in Atlanta. He previously ran a family-owned furniture store chain that collapsed in bankruptcy a decade earlier, something that Dickens blamed on the effects of the Great Recession.

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