Atlanta’s new City Council sworn in, meets for the first time

The seal of the city of Atlanta is displayed at Monday's inauguration ceremony. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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The seal of the city of Atlanta is displayed at Monday's inauguration ceremony. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Newly elected members of the Atlanta City Council were sworn in and met for the first time after an inauguration ceremony at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium on Monday afternoon.

Along with Mayor Andre Dickens, the 15 councilmembers and new City Council President Doug Shipman officially began their four-year terms after taking the oath of office.

“Now is the time to build our collective sense of security, not just address our individual insecurities. Now is the time to invest in our grandchildren’s future, not only in our current realities,” Shipman said during the inauguration ceremony. “This moment requires our imagination.”

ExploreAndre Dickens sworn in as Atlanta’s 61st mayor

The council met virtually, as plans for a return to the physical council chambers were delayed amid the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Officials have not said when City Hall might reopen to the public.

The first council meeting was advertised as an “organizational meeting,” and contained little official business or formal votes. Shipman announced which councilmembers were assigned to each council committee, and new legislation was introduced at the end of the meeting.

Dickens spoke at the beginning of the meeting, telling the council members he is eager to work with them and keep lines of communication open.

“The things that you have going on, please continue to relay messages to me, and I’ll relay messages to you,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do. We have a city that’s in need and we have a city that needs to stay together and not separate.”

ExploreNot just a new mayor: Atlanta City Council will see major turnover next year

November’s elections led to significant turnover on the city’s legislative body — the new City Council includes six brand-new members and two former members making a return to City Hall: Mary Norwood and Alex Wan. It trends younger, more ideologically progressive and more diverse than past iterations, with eight Black members, five white members, two Iranian Americans and one Chinese American, and four openly LBGTQ members.

The council approves local laws and policies, and has a say over the city’s budget and spending, as well as major development projects.

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