Inside City Hall: The first look at Andre Dickens’ leadership team

A weekly roundup of the most important things happening at Atlanta City Hall
At a press conference last week, Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens greets Maria Thacker Goethe, CEO of Center for Global Health Innovation, which is opening a new hub in Atlanta. (Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

At a press conference last week, Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens greets Maria Thacker Goethe, CEO of Center for Global Health Innovation, which is opening a new hub in Atlanta. (Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

You may have noticed this week’s roundup looks a little different. As we move past the election and into the next mayoral administration, we’re renaming the Race for City Hall to “Inside City Hall” — we’ll keep bringing you the insights, analysis and news updates you need on Atlanta politics, now with a focus on the inner workings at 55 Trinity Ave.

As a new mayor prepares to take the reins at City Hall, we want to hear from you! If you have any thoughts, tips or insider info related to the city, email us at and We’re also on Twitter, @jdcapelouto and @WilNobles.


We got our first glimpse Monday at the makeup of Mayor-elect Andre Dickens’ inner circle at City Hall when he takes office in two weeks.

Rather than bring in a new chief operating officer on Day One, Dickens plans to keep current COO Jon Keen onboard for a few months, outgoing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced at a press conference Monday.

“I think it was very wise of our mayor-elect to ask [Keen] to stay on for a few months during the transition because that creates some continuity and he is creating a framework for his administration,” Bottoms said. “You have someone in place who can tell you why we made certain decisions.”

The announcement is significant given the responsibilities the COO has — largely a behind-the-scenes role, the COO is a top Cabinet member and runs day-to-day operations at City Hall. Keen has also helped to promote much of Bottoms’ agenda to City Council, sometimes speaking during City Council meetings in support of various policy proposals.

Keen, a former major in the U.S. Army, started working at City Hall in 2018 after working as a manager for Deloitte Consulting LLP.

A spokesman for Dickens confirmed Keen will stay on to help with continuity for a few months. The mayor-elect hasn’t made any announcements regarding his chief of staff, senior advisors or new department heads.


Dickens was frank last week about his immediate priorities, telling a group of NPU leaders and Buckhead-area real estate agents that “I am very hyper-focused on Buckhead. I’ll be honest about that. The AJC is back there; you can write that. I care about my entire city, but [Buckhead cityhood] is something to address right now.”

Dickens, whose seemed to be generally well-received, also took questions from the community members, who addressed concerns ranging from crime to housing to the city’s contract for tennis centers.

Reflecting worries felt by many in Buckhead, Dickens said violent crime was the elephant in the room and needs to be stopped across the entire city. He also vowed to get unruly nightclubs and restaurants under control, saying he is willing to show up at 3 a.m. to check for himself if businesses are following the rules.

Also in attendance: former and future Councilwoman Mary Norwood, who will represent a Buckhead district in January. (Norwood has not come out in support or against the cityhood movement.)

After meeting with the real estate folks, Dickens mingled with another important group later in the week: the home builders. He spoke at a reception hosted by the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association on Thursday.


Dickens met President Biden, Vice President Harris and nine other newly elected mayors at the White House on Tuesday. They discussed topics including public safety, transportation and federal infrastructure dollars slated for cities across the country.

The mayor-elect said on Twitter he was honored to be invited along with the new mayors of New York, Seattle, Boston and other cities. They also met with several members of Joe Biden’s cabinet.


The “New Kids on the Block”: Atlanta’s eight incoming council members went to City Hall last week for orientation before their terms begin in two weeks.

They took their formal headshots and learned some basics about serving on the Council and City Hall. Of course, two of the “new” members — returning councilors Mary Norwood and Alex Wan — already know their way around City Hall.

The incoming councilmembers also got a look at the committee rooms and council chambers (We loved all the selfies!).


The board of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau took a unanimous stand against Buckhead cityhood last week, Donnell Suggs at the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports.

The ACVB, the official organization that promotes the city as a tourism destination, said 23.5% of the city’s hotel room inventory is in Buckhead, and 26% of the city’s hotel tax revenue comes from the Northside.

The bureau’s board of directors and executive committee is made up of business leaders from across the city — another sign of Atlanta’s business titans lining up against Buckhead secession.


A former engineer for the city of Atlanta said she has never seen the evidence that justified seizing and demolishing two dozen homes in Peoplestown in southeast Atlanta, Channel 2 Action News’ Richard Belcher reports.

A Fulton County judge recently ordered the city to produce a report showing they had a reason to take the homes and replace them with a stormwater retention pond to prevent future flooding.

Kim Scott, who was the director for the Peoplestown project, wrote in a 2013 email to other officials that the city didn’t have the data to justify the seizure.

Four homes, occupied by residents who refused to leave, still remain on the block. Mayor-elect Dickens has promised to find a way to keep them in their homes and solve the flooding issue.