Decision day: Voters head to the polls Tuesday to select Atlanta’s next leaders

The runoff election that will set the course for the next four years at Atlanta City Hall will be decided Tuesday, as voters head to the polls and elect the city’s 61st mayor. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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The runoff election that will set the course for the next four years at Atlanta City Hall will be decided Tuesday, as voters head to the polls and elect the city’s 61st mayor. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

The runoff election that will set the course for the next four years at Atlanta City Hall will be decided Tuesday, as voters head to the polls and elect the city’s 61st mayor.

Tuesday caps off a historic election cycle that saw the incumbent mayor forego a reelection bid and a former mayor seek a third term at City Hall. The race ends with two City Council colleagues on the ballot for mayor: Councilman Andre Dickens and City Council President Felicia Moore, who both have big plans to bolster the ranks of the police department, improve basic city services and reopen City Hall to the public.

Dickens, a southwest Atlanta native, is a two-term citywide councilman aiming to repair the “soul of Atlanta” through a number of proposed new initiatives and city departments. Moore, 24-year veteran of the council, is pitching her decades of civic service and legislative experience as prime reasons she should lead the city.

ExploreMore Atlanta mayor's race coverage from the AJC

Both canvassed Atlanta’s neighborhoods in the final days of the runoff, hoping to energize residents and encourage voter turnout after a sleepy holiday week.

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Atlanta mayoral candidate Felicia Moore and State House Representative Dewey McClain listen to the speakers at a get-out-the-vote rally in Atlanta Monday, November 29, 2021. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Atlanta mayoral candidate Felicia Moore and State House Representative Dewey McClain listen to the speakers at a get-out-the-vote rally in Atlanta Monday, November 29, 2021.  STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Atlanta mayoral candidate Felicia Moore and State House Representative Dewey McClain listen to the speakers at a get-out-the-vote rally in Atlanta Monday, November 29, 2021. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

“This election is more about us moving in a new direction, and opening up City Hall to those who have felt shut out of City Hall,” Moore said in an interview Monday. “We have a lot of work to do. We have kicked many cans down the road.”

Moore held a rally and mass get-out-the-vote event on Edgewood Avenue with supporters Monday afternoon. Dickens wrapped up his campaigning with a prayer vigil Monday afternoon and a rally at Park Tavern in the evening. During a stop at a senior living center earlier in the day, he said the condensed runoff period has been like a “sprint marathon.”

“It’s become clear to everybody that I’m the person that can lead us right now, in a time when we need a unifier to bring the whole city together,” Dickens said. “I’m a visionary; I have the future of the city in mind when I make decisions.”

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Atlanta mayoral candidate and councilman Andre Dickenson pauses for a selfie with Yolanda Napier while visiting with her and other residents during a campaign stop at The Remington, a senior living facility, on the eve of the mayoral runoff election on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Atlanta mayoral candidate and councilman Andre Dickenson pauses for a selfie with Yolanda Napier while visiting with her and other residents during a campaign stop at The Remington, a senior living facility, on the eve of the mayoral runoff election on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta mayoral candidate and councilman Andre Dickenson pauses for a selfie with Yolanda Napier while visiting with her and other residents during a campaign stop at The Remington, a senior living facility, on the eve of the mayoral runoff election on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

ExploreA behind the scenes look at the Atlanta mayor’s race

Both candidates agree that the stakes for the next mayor are high; they will be tasked with reducing violent crime in Atlanta while restoring trust between the police and marginalized communities. They will have to grapple with an ongoing affordable housing and income inequality crisis in the city.

And weeks after they take office, the Georgia General Assembly will reconvene and consider Republican-led legislation to carve Buckhead into its own city. As the leader of Georgia’s biggest city, Atlanta’s next mayor can also play a big role as a regional leader, especially on issues of transportation and economic development.

Moore finished with 41% of the vote in the Nov. 2 general election, while Dickens was in second place with 23%. For both campaigns, getting 50% of the vote in the runoff means winning over voters who selected other candidates in the general election, namely former Mayor Kasim Reed, who was locked out of the runoff with just 600 fewer votes than Dickens.

Aiming to increase their base of support, both camps have rolled out new endorsements during the runoff. The biggest local name, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, came out in support of Dickens, along with six City Council members and former mayors Shirley Franklin and Andrew Young. Moore is backed by the firefighters union and a majority of DeKalb commissioners, and both have groups of state representatives and senators lined up behind them.

It’s been an expensive race, too. In the final campaign disclosure before the runoff, Moore reported she has raised almost $1.8 million since launching her campaign in January, and has about $170,000 left in the bank. Dickens has outraised Moore since the runoff period began, reporting a total of $2.3 million in contributions with about $450,000 on hand.

ExploreExclusive AJC poll: Dickens edges ahead of Moore in Atlanta mayoral runoff

The final days of the election haven’t been without political conflict.

Since the first debate of the runoff, Dickens has attacked Moore for voting against previous budgets and some Beltline-related measures, adding that he is able to “get to yes” on initiatives he champions. Moore, who has been critical of mayoral administrations at times while on council, defended those votes and said they demonstrate she is not afraid to push back against establishment leadership.

Dickens’ allies have also sought to link Moore, who dominated in Buckhead during the general election, with the white, conservative interests of the Northside. She pushed back on that too, calling the councilman “Say-anything Andre Dickens” in a recent radio interview.

“We have serious issues,” Moore said, “and we’re taking about whether or not she’s Black enough, whether or not she’ll support the Black community, and putting out pure lies.”

In addition to selecting a mayor, Atlanta residents will vote for a new City Council president, with Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong and former Woodruff Arts Center CEO Doug Shipman advancing to the runoff for that post. Several City Council and school board seats are also on the ballot.

Across metro Atlanta, voters in the cities of Fairburn, Forest Park, Peachtree City and South Fulton also have runoff elections for mayor Tuesday.


HOW TO VOTE ON TUESDAY

To vote, visit your assigned precinct on Tuesday. You can find it on the state’s My Voter Page site, as well as a sample ballot to get a preview of what you’re voting for.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. for all city of Atlanta precincts.

Visit AJC.com/news/Atlanta-mayors-race-2021/ for the AJC’s extensive coverage of the Race for City Hall, which includes biographies and videos of Dickens and Moore answering key questions. The AJC.com/voter-guide/ also provides a behind the scenes look into what it’s like to be a runoff candidate in the mayor’s race.