Atlanta mayoral runoff: Bottoms claims victory; Norwood seeks recount

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Atlanta mayoral runoff: Bottoms claims victory; Norwood seeks recount

12:31 a.m.: Norwood just canceled all appearances for tomorrow to wait for the recount. Bottoms said she finished her day campaigning with stops at the Piccadilly at Greenbriar Mall, a stop at the Kroger store on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard and Ralph Bunche Middle School, which she attended as a child. 

She said teachers there “believed in me and believed that we were better than our circumstances.”

12:23 a.m.: Bottoms just now: "This is about Atlanta. And what we said from Day One is that this is about what we hope this city can be for our children’s children.” Bottoms praised her supporters for standing with her when the odds were against her campaign. "We stand tonight as one Atlanta.”

“I stand here tonight as my daddy’s daughter and I can say dreams do come true,” Bottoms said. “For those who did not support me, I look forward to working with you as well, because this is still a city for all of us.”

12:19 p.m.: Keisha Lance Bottoms is speaking to her supporters, offering thanks.

12:17 p.m.: Mary Norwood is not calling the race. She says she's waiting for absentee ballots from the military and provisional ballots that won't be tabulated until Thursday. Norwood is asking for a recount.

“We just don’t know,” she said early Wednesday as returns showed her trailing Bottoms by about 700 votes. “This is very close. It is not over yet.”

“I’ve done this before. The next few days are going to be all-hands-on-deck, and all analysis will be done,” she said. “We are two days away from knowing.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Keisha Lance Bottoms as his successor and the 60th Mayor of the City of Atlanta.

11:42 p.m.: Chants of "Mary, Mary" erupt as latest returns show a 50-50 race, with her down by about 800 votes. Not sure if this means she's speaking soon.

11:29 p.m.: What had been a rather subdued crowd at the Bottoms party is buzzing now.

11:17 p.m.: As a surge of reported votes put Bottoms in a narrow lead in the race, Democratic Party of Georgia chief Dubose Porter, rallied the crowd. He said Bottoms “stands firm for our values and I stand firm with her.”

“Beyond being the most qualified person in the race, she, Keisha, is the standard bearer to preserve the great legacy of this city,” Porter said. “She understands Atlanta because she is Atlanta. Atlanta is a democratic city and Keisha Lance Bottoms is a fine Democrat. Which is more than I can say about her opponent.”

11:11 p.m.: Huge eruption of cheers with new results shown on Channel 2 of Bottoms leading

10:50 p.m.: Folks here getting a little more optimistic, FWIW, as returns show Norwood with ginormous lead in northside. 

Atlanta mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is running against mayoral candidate Mary Norwood, arrives for a runoff election night party at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL Branden Camp

10:46 p.m.: Bottoms is in the building. Not sure what time she will appear at her party at the Hyatt Regency downtown.

10:35 p.m.: Former mayoral contender Peter Aman just took the stage to caution the crowd that this will be a long night as Fulton's votes trickle in. 

“Things are really positive, but we’re not in the position to say anything definitive at this point," he said to cheers. "We’re optimistic.”

10:05 p.m.: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed spoke in a scrum of broadcast and print reporters as former Democratic congressional candidate, Jon Ossoff, spoke from the lectern at the Bottoms party shortly before 10 p.m.

“We were both campaigning to 8:30, 9 o’clock with people still standing in line,” Reed told reporters of his evening spent stumping for Bottoms. “I feel good. I’m optimistic. I’ve been in this position before and last time (in 2009) in this race, I was at about the same point.

Mayor Kasim Reed arrives for an election night party for Atlanta mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is running against mayoral candidate Mary Norwood, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL Branden Camp

“I think folks should just hold tight and wait for results to come in,” Reed said. 

Reed said the voters he met were excited. 

“I think people cared about this election and I think at the end of the day I’m proud of this city,” he said. It was a really tough campaign and this city has acquitted itself getting through it.”

From the stage, Ossoff rallied the crowd and thanked supporters for hitting the streets for Bottoms. 

Jon Ossoff, left, greets Charly Aaron as he arrives for an election night party for Atlanta mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is running against mayoral candidate Mary Norwood, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL Branden Camp

“With all of us in this room together, with this community together, will continue to push Atlanta forward so that we become one of the finest, most respected, most prosperous cities on Earth,” Ossoff said. “…There are things possible in this city that are not possible in any other city in this country. We need to cherish that, we need to build on it, we need to stay focused. We need to do better and we will together.”

The crowd erupted at the Bottoms party just after 10 p.m. when a large amount of Fulton results came in, showing a neck-and-neck race between Bottoms and Norwood.

9:52 p.m.: Jon Ossoff has arrived at the Bottoms party.

9:38 p.m.: Mary Norwood pushed back every chance she could get at claims she was a "closet Republican," but she drew plenty of GOP figures to her campaign party. Among them: State Sen. Brandon Beach, 11th District GOP Chair Brad Carver, former state Rep. Melvin Everson and GOP strategist Seth Weathers, who runs Michael Williams' campaign for governor.

9:19 p.m.: It's the ghosts of elections past here: Cathy Woolard and Ceasar Mitchell are among the former candidates who endorsed Mary Norwood milling about her party. 

“It’s been a long race. I think Mary probably has the momentum and will win, but I think it will be close,” Woolard said.

December 5, 2017 Atlanta: Mary Norwood makes a statement as she arrives for her election night party at the Park Tavern in the Atlanta mayoral runoff on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Norwood entered her party around 9:15 p.m. and told the crowd “I am so ready to be your next mayor.” 

“We have a long night ahead of us, and I can tell you if that’s any indication, it’s going to be very close,” she said. “We will be here until every vote is counted.”

In remarks to reporters, she said she’ll know.

“We were out all day today in 25 different places throughout the city, talking to voters, connecting with them,” she said. Asked to compare this night to her 2009 runoff defeat, she smiled.

“It’s an entirely different campaign, and the city is entirely different. I’ve enjoyed having the breadth of support, including a lot of my opponents and two former mayors,” she said. “I mean, what an amazing coalition and collaborative effort.”

8:50 p.m.: Timothy City moved from Detroit to Atlanta about five years ago to take a job as a teacher. He said education was his biggest issue and picked Bottoms for her pledges for more cooperation between City Hall and Atlanta Public Schools. 

“I think if Atlanta wants to stay Atlanta and stay true, she’ll win,” City said. 

Charles Doyle, left, and Sarah Pirzad pose for photo before an election night party for Atlanta mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is running against mayoral candidate Mary Norwood, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL Branden Camp

He said he picked Bottoms based on issues and researching the candidates. He said Bottoms and her life’s story of growing up through a difficult childhood, with an incarcerated father, to become a lawyer, judge and council member were compelling stories and shows “the best of Atlanta.” 

Asked if he thought Bottoms will prevail, City said: “I believe. I have faith.”

8 p.m.: All polls are now closed. Please stay with AJC.com and myAJC.com for continuing updates on all local runoff elections.

7 p.m.: In Atlanta and Fulton County, polls remain open until 8. Other polls are now closed.

5:42 p.m.: Like several others interviewed in southwest Atlanta, Edward Barnes voted against Mary Norwood on Tuesday because he thinks she is secretly a Republican.

“I definitely wasn’t voting for a Republican, which I know Norwood is,” he said after casting his ballot for Keisha Lance Bottoms at Oakland Missionary Baptist Church.

Edward Barnes

Norwood identifies as an independent, but suggestions that circulated in the closing days of the campaign that she had Trump-like qualities stuck with some voters. 

Barnes said the field of candidates, which reached as high as 12 people at one point during the race, was too large and he’s not sure the best contestants made it to the runoff.

“In all honesty, when you have that many candidates, they cancelled each other out,” he said.

5:29 p.m.: Eddie Williams of southwest Atlanta said he voted for Keisha Lance Bottoms because he trusts her more than Mary Norwood. Williams said he was upset by Norwood’s hesitation back in September when asked about the existence of racial profiling. 

After getting clarity on whether the moderator meant racial profiling in Atlanta or nationally, Norwood responded to the question in the affirmative.

Eddie Williams

“I didn’t like what she said about profiling,” he said. “I don’t think she would be good for the black community.”

5:17 p.m.: Dee Baker, 41, voted for Keisha Lance Bottoms in Tuesday’s election, although her first choice was City Councilman and former mayoral candidate Kwanza Hall, who did not make the runoff.

Dee Baker


“The things that I have seen (Bottoms) do have been positive, though there are a lot of negative things people are saying about her,” Baker said moments after casting her vote at the James Orange Recreation Center. “To tell you the truth, I was trying to go with the lesser of two evils.
“I just want them to be held accountable for the things they say they are going to do,” she said. “I don’t think Mayor (Kasim) Reed did a lot of the things he said was going to do.”

3:30 p.m.: In the West End, Travis Copeland walked into the polling precinct with his decision for Atlanta mayor still up in the air. 

He said he wanted to see the city “continue on the path that it’s on” — but that didn’t mean he was going to back Bottoms.

Travis Copeland (Greg Bluestein/AJC)

“I’m a had maybe for Bottoms at best,” said Copeland, a 30-year-old who works in the airline industry. “But progress is important, especially in the southside. We’re lagging behind, and we need new development.”


In Southwest Atlanta, Carolyn Tucker said she’s fed up with the corruption in City Hall and wanted her vote to mark a dividing line between the Reed regime and his successor. And she said Bottoms is the best candidate to clean up the city.

“I hope by voting the way I did, we can get a more clear picture as to what’s going on at City Hall,” said Tucker, a 62-year-old retiree. 

Carolyn Tucker (Greg Bluestein/AJC)

“I don’t know why it’s gotten so bad,” she added. “And whoever gets in, I’m holding their feet to the fire. I want them to do better things.”

She said she voted for Bottoms despite her ties to Reed. 

“If she continues his politics as usual, or if she’s tied to that scandal, I’m going to be very upset,” she said. “And I sure hope she doesn’t let money corrupt her.”

2 p.m.: Election Day has reached its halfway point. Polls is most of the metro area close at 7 p.m. Voters in Fulton County and the city of Atlanta have an extra hour to cast their ballots. Polls in those areas close at 8 p.m.

In addition to the Atlanta mayor’s race between Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms, metro Atlanta voters are electing leaders in other offices, including:

  • Georgia Legislature: Senate Districts 6, 39; House Districts 60, 89
  • Fulton County Commission: Chairman, District 4
  • Atlanta City Council: President; Districts 4, 9, 11
  • Atlanta School Board: Districts 2, 3, 5, 7
  • Other metro mayor’s races: East Point, Peachtree City, Roswell
  • Other metro city council elections: Austell, East Point, Hapeville, JohnsCreek, Marietta, Peachtree City, Peachtree Corners, Roswell, Smyrna


1:30: Where her brother stood hours before, Kim Schofield held her own sign in front of Dobbs, “right around the corner” from her home, late Tuesday morning. The candidate to represent District 60 said she’d spend the day “hitting every precinct, shaking every hand that I can, waving and making sure people know to vote for Kim Schofield.” 

Kim Schofield (Becca Godwin/AJC)

Later, she’ll watch the results come in at Mellow Mushroom in College Park. 

The Atlanta resident has “always had a heart for this community,” and said she shows it by attending NPU meetings, working with councilmembers and doing volunteer work at South Atlanta high school.

“I will continue to make sure that we have better education, access to health care and make sure that we’re investing in the community,” Schofield said. “I plan to empower people and make sure their voices are heard down at the state capitol.”

11:25 a.m.: Josh Jones, 25, a yoga teacher from North Druid Hills, was a Cathy Woolard supporter who voted for Mary Norwood after Woolard backed her. 

He said corruption in city hall was a big issue for him. 

“People want somebody they can trust and who can keep Atlanta growing, because it’s booming,” he said. “Housing especially is a big deal.”

Hillary Bolle, a writer who lives in Midtown, reluctantly cast her vote for Mary Norwood

Hillary Bolle (Meris Lutz/AJC)

“I wasn’t thrilled with either candidate,” said Bolle, who voted for Caesar Mitchell in November. 

“There’s a lot about Keisha Lance Bottoms that makes me nervous with the corruption in city hall and the fact she didn’t pay her water bill,” said Bolle. 

Bolle said it “gave her pause” to vote for a white candidate in a diverse city that has had black leadership for so long, but she didn’t feel Lance Bottoms was an ethical candidate. 

“I was a little uncomfortable voting for a white person,” she said. She added that endorsements for Norwood from Georgia Equality and Cathy Woolard helped convince her.

11 a.m.: Mayor Kasim Reed cast his ballot before 11 a.m. at Fickett Elementary School in Southwest Atlanta with wife Sarah-Elizabeth and their daughter, Maria Kristan.

“I’m just excited about completing this day, getting out there and campaigning for Keisha Lance Bottoms,” the mayor told reporters outside the polling place. He said his advice to both candidates in the final hours was “to campaign with joy.” 

Reed said he could think of “no higher honor” than to be the mayor of Atlanta.

“Being mayor of the city of Atlanta has been the honor of my life,” he said. “I’ve loved every single moment of it. My wife and I have just had a wonderful eight years, our daughter was born while I’ve been mayor and today just feels really amazing and terrific to me.”

10:30 a.m.: Daisy Daniels voted Tuesday morning at Cleveland Avenue Branch Library.

“I feel like Bottoms should win,” Daniels, 75, said. “I feel like she shouldn’t be held responsible for what Kasim Reed did. It’s two different people.”

As the AJC has previously reported, Reed is leaving office with City Hall under the cloud of federal bribery investigation. He has never been identified as a person of interest and has pledged to cooperate with federal authorities. But he has endorsed Bottoms.

When asked during a debate Sunday whether she would be an extension of Reed’s administration, Bottoms called the question sexist.

“That question is really an affront to every woman like my mother who raises girls to be strong women,” Bottoms said.

On Tuesday, Henry Dennison, 55, also voted at the Cleveland Avenue library. 

Henry Dennison (Tia Mitchell/AJC)

“I voted because it’s my civic duty,” he said. “All of the issues are important to me. Our schools and our community.” Did Reed’s endorsement of Bottoms have an impact on his vote? “No. Not at all.”



Jeffrey Schofield (Becca Godwin/AJC)

Yet he stood on the sidewalk in front of John Wesley Dobbs elementary school Tuesday, holding a campaign sign and waving at passing cars. He flew to the city to advocate for his sister, Kim Schofield. Schofield faces De’Andre Pickett in a House runoff to represent District 60, which covers areas including College Park, East Point, Forest Park and southwest Atlanta. 

Jeffrey Schofield, an accountant who went to college in Atlanta, said he’s come to the city every weekend to knock on doors or hand out turkeys for his sister’s campaign. He thinks Kim Schofield, an Emory University researcher, is the right person for the job because she’s a new, fresh face who advocates for health care and affordable housing.

 “In these days, it’s hard to pass legislation, but she wrote a bill for lupus research and got it approved,” he said.



9:15 a.m: Chris Palmer, 40, said the topic of transit got him to his precinct at Antioch Baptist Church North on Northside Drive.

“Atlanta’s not a bubble,” he said.

Transit is big for him considering he commutes to Kennesaw State University, where he works as an English professor. He said he feels bus service in his area, Howell Mill Road and 14th Street, isn’t enough.

Chris Palmer  (Ben Brasch/AJC)

“(The) West Side has been a little more neglected,” he said. “We’re on the back burner.”

Palmer said he didn’t vote for Norwood or Bottoms during the first election in November. He voted for Cathy Woolard, but said her endorsement of Norwood didn’t have much effect on him. He said Reed “figured pretty heavily in the race” stumping for Bottoms.

“It’s unfortunate. I think it was used against her, (and) she’s more than that,” Palmer said.

But Aminah Sims said Reed’s endorsement of Bottoms is what secured her vote at Antioch on Tuesday. 

Sims, 39, said she couldn’t point to one Bottoms policy in particular that won her over, adding that she was generally happy with Reed’s tenure.

“The fact that he was endorsing her ... means she’ll pick up the torch,” Sims said.

The race between Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood has been in the spotlight long before the Nov. 7 general election and through today’s runoff Election Day. 

In addition to that race, voters are also casting ballots in a number of other races incuding several Georgia legislative seats, positions on local school boards, mayoral slots and county commission and city council offices.

Polls open, 7 a.m: About a dozen people filtered in and out of the Cosby Spear, a remnant of an Atlanta public housing project from the 1970s, during the first 30 minutes of polling Tuesday.

Angela Murcia, a 26-year-old healthcare consultant, said gentrification was the issue that spurred her to vote — and cast her ballot for Keisha Lance Bottoms.

She said she felt Bottoms was “a little more vocal” than the rest of the field.

Murcia moved the area near Central Park, blocks away from Ponce City Market, in June from Athens after finishing up studies at the University of Georgia.

Because she just moved, she said current mayor Kasim Reed didn’t have an effect on her. What really brought her out at 7 a.m. on Tuesday happened a year ago.

“The past (presidential) election was a big wake-up call to vote,” she said.

Voters wait to cast their ballots Tuesday morning at Grady High School JOHN SPINK / AJC

At the Dunbar Recreation Center Vincent Parris, of Mechanicsville, said he voted for Keisha Lance Bottoms and that Mayor Kasim Reed did not have an impact on his vote.

“I just think it is important for everybody to get out and vote,” he said, “regardless of the nature of the ballot, whether it is for president, whether it is local, or whatever. You need to get out and vote and exercise your rights.”

“No, he did not influence who I voted for,” he said of Reed.

Donald Lane, of Mechanicsville, said he also voted for Keisha Lance Bottoms, and like Parris, Mayor Reed did not have an impact on his vote.

“It was real important to me to vote because I didn’t like who Mrs. Bottoms was running against,” he said. “She is a Republican, even though she says she isn’t. She’s going to try to change things for Republicans.”

Staff writers Leon Stafford, Meris Lutz, Tia Mitchell, Ben Brasch, Greg Bluestein, Becca J.G. Godwin and J. Scott Trubey contributed to this report.


The AJC is your source for continued comprehensive coverage of the 2017 mayoral runoff as Atlanta returns to the polls today. Stay with AJC.com for updates thorughout the day.


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