Atlanta Mayor-Elect Andre Dickens begins fight to prevent Buckhead cityhood



Atlanta is at a crossroads. But for Andre Dickens, it is the best of times to restore “the soul of Atlanta.”

On the campaign trail, Dickens repeatedly said this year’s election was for the city’s soul. He dominated Tuesday’s runoff against Felicia Moore to become Atlanta’s 61st mayor, and then acknowledged in his victory speech Tuesday night that the real work is just beginning.

“My opponent is homelessness, hopelessness, joblessness, racism, poverty, violence,” Dickens said. “My opponent requires all of us, and that’s what we’re fighting against.

“If any city in the world can face this issue, it’s Atlanta.”

Mayor-elect Dickens hit the ground running Wednesday morning, when he told reporters that he’s already trying to meet with the proponents of Buckhead cityhood, which would turn Atlanta into a tale of two cities — stripping away 20% of Atlanta’s population and an estimated $232 million in tax revenue.

Buckhead Cityhood CEO Bill White told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Dickens needs to take the movement “very seriously.” He also urged Dickens to apologize to the Atlanta Police Department for his 2020 “defund the police vote.” (Dickens was one of several council members who voted to temporarily withhold a portion of police funding until a plan to reimagine policing was approved).



White said he did not talk to Dickens Wednesday, but that his organization is on a list of “20 people to call as a priority” for the mayor-elect.

“It just comes with a general frustration of where Buckhead fits in the priority of the people at City Hall and now, we feel the same with the new guy,” White said. “I congratulate him for his victory. I also call upon him immediately to sit down with us to talk about how we make a smooth transition for Buckhead City’s setup.”

The mayor-elect’s day began at his campaign headquarters in the Old Forth Ward community, and his plans included speaking with several Georgia power players — including Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, and Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant.

He’s also planning to speak to Moore about a possible future role for her, saying “we’ll come up with something together.”

Moore told the AJC that Dickens mentioned a potential role for her during a call to him Tuesday night, but the details have yet to be fleshed out. She said she’s going to finish her role as Council President and visit her family in Indiana before she figures out her next step.

The mayor-elect also attended the funeral for influential political organizer Michael Langford Tuesday afternoon.

Atlanta’s population and business industry is growing, but the city also faces increases in crime amid longstanding income inequality.

Dickens’ goals include improving city services and offerings of affordable housing, while hiring more police officers. He also wants to reopen City Hall, establish more robust community policing and work with state legislators to oppose Buckhead cityhood.

“I’m not going to be Superman out here alone,” Dickens said during his speech Tuesday night. “I’m doing this with all of us...I’m a hell of an engineer. I can draw squares, I can draw triangles, I can do that little infinity thing, but I chose to draw circles and I don’t draw lines.”

Dickens on Wednesday held a security briefing that was off-limits to the press. He then traveled to Piedmont Avenue and Cascade Road to thank supporters.

The mayor-elect is a Adamsville native and first-generation college graduate who has served on the Atlanta City Council for eight years. He graduated from Georgia Tech and is the first mayor to have graduated from Mays High School.



Kemp, Moore and other officials lauded Dickens for his runoff victory. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who endorsed Dickens, said on Twitter that “the future of our city is in good hands.”

Former mayor Shirley Franklin agreed.

She said voters picked Dickens because they wanted someone who will address the problems with “incremental changes that are significant enough to be acknowledged and recognized.”

Franklin also said Dickens identified himself as an inclusive leader who is listening to people’s concerns about economic and educational opportunities for the community.

“I’m very excited for Andre and for the city,” Franklin said.