Several mayoral, council races proceed to runoffs in metro Atlanta



Candidates have to grapple with motivating voters to go back to the polls Nov. 30

The race for Atlanta’s next mayor isn’t the only contest heading to a runoff this year.

On Nov. 30, residents in nearly a dozen other metro Atlanta cities will cast their votes to finalize their city’s leadership. Given that runoffs historically have lower turnout rates than general elections, candidates will have to find ways to motivate their neighbors to show up to vote.

Four cities on the southside — Fairburn, Forest Park, Peachtree City and South Fulton — have mayoral candidates involved in runoff elections.

ExploreOn the ballot: A list of the Nov. 30 runoff elections in metro Atlanta

Incumbent William “Bill” Edwards squares off with councilman Khalid Kamau to lead South Fulton, a city founded in 2017. Edwards, the city’s first mayor, received 44% of the vote in the general election followed by Kamau’s 29%. He faced removal from office in 2019 due to a controversial development deal, but an investigative hearing ended soon after without a vote.

Forest Park Mayor Angelyne Butler is also involved in a runoff with former councilman Thomas Smith. In a near dead-heat, Butler only received five more votes than Smith on Election Day. Butler, the city’s first Black mayor, has overseen a city that’s undergoing drastic demographic changes, shifting from a mostly white city to majority Black over the past few years. Three Forest Park police officials, both Black and white, have filed lawsuits against the city, claiming they were victims of racism. Butler and other city leaders have denied all allegations of firing people over their race.

Explore3rd ex-Forest Park Police official sues, alleging racism and retaliation

In Fairburn, current mayor Elizabeth Carr-Hurst faces off with former mayor Mario Avery, who nearly won the general election outright with 49% of the vote. Carr-Hurst, a polarizing figure in the city, received 35%. Carr-Hurst was criticized after she continued to require city workers to report to their regular work sites amid the COVID-19 pandemic, despite most cities allowing employees to work from home.

The race for Peachtree City’s next mayor does not include an incumbent. Kim Learnard and Eric Imker are vying to replace Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, who could not run again due to term limits. In a five-candidate general election, Learnard received 36% of the vote followed by Imker’s 35%.

Two contentious council elections are also taking place in DeKalb County. Imani Barnes is running against Cara Schroeder to finish off a contentious and heated election cycle in Tucker. Barnes is the last staunchly progressive candidate running in the city, whose residents mostly rejected other left-leaning candidates. Schroeder said she’s running a nonpartisan campaign.

In Stonecrest, incumbent Jimmy Clanton faces off with Tara Graves. Clanton is the only incumbent to not win reelection in Stonecrest on Election Day, which he credits to his perceived close relationship with Mayor Jason Lary. On Wednesday, Lary was charged with three federal crimes in an alleged kickback scheme using federal COVID-19 relief funds. In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before the charges were announced, Clanton distanced himself from Lary and said he would more vocally address the various financial scandals that have taken place in the young city over the past year.

ExploreStonecrest mayor faces 3 federal charges in pandemic relief fund scandal

Other runoff elections

Duluth Council Post 4: Manfred Graeder versus Brandon Odum

Marietta Council Ward 5: Reginald Copeland versus Carlyle Kent

Milton Council District 1, Post 1: Jami Tucker versus Andrea Verhoff

Peachtree City Council Post 4: Phil Crane versus Frank Destadio

Roswell Council Post 5: Michael Dal Cerro versus Will Morthland

South Fulton Council District 4: Naeema Gilyard versus Jaceey Sebastian

Suwanee Council Post 5: Pete Charpentier versus David Martinez

How to vote in the runoff elections

Absentee and early voting is available in each contest. You must vote in the county in which you are registered. For more information, visit your county’s election website. (Duluth and Suwanee run their own elections, so visit their website for more information).

ExploreFulton, DeKalb set early voting dates for Atlanta mayoral runoff

— AJC Senior Digital Producer Brian O’Shea contributed to this article.