A southwest Atlanta native, Dickens was relatively unknown in the Atlanta political scene before he challenged and defeated an incumbent for a citywide council post in 2013. He was reelected in 2017.
Dickens, 46, is the second councilman to enter the race just weeks after Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced her decision to not seek a second term. Fellow councilman Antonio Brown held a press conference at City Hall last Friday to declare he is running for mayor.
The field of candidates also includes City Council President Felicia Moore and attorney Sharon Gay. Former Mayor Kasim Reed has said he still needs time before deciding if he will make a run for his old post.
Dickens said he has wanted to be mayor since he was 16 years old, and had planned to run in the next open election. While Moore has raised nearly $500,000 and Gay has $410,000 in the bank, Dickens said his fundraising efforts will raise over half a million dollars by the end of June.
“Where a lot of people have been dividers, I’ve been able to bring people together,” he said.
Dickens, who currently chairs the City Council’s transportation committee, is credited with proposing the idea to create what is now the Atlanta Department of Transportation. He also championed the “inclusionary zoning” policy for the Beltline, which ensures new development includes some affordable housing, and sponsored an ordinance to regulate Atlanta’s short-term rental properties earlier this year.
He currently works as the chief development officer for TechBridge, an organization that provides affordable technology and workforce training to other nonprofits.