Dickens wins runoff election, will become Atlanta’s 61st mayor

Atlanta mayoral candidate Andre Dickens campaigns across from Park Tavern as voters cast their ballots in the city of Atlanta runoff election Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Atlanta mayoral candidate Andre Dickens campaigns across from Park Tavern as voters cast their ballots in the city of Atlanta runoff election Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Andre Dickens, the Atlanta native who first beat an incumbent eight years ago for a spot on the City Council, defeated Felicia Moore in Tuesday’s runoff election to become Atlanta’s 61st mayor.

With most of the precincts reporting, Dickens held a strong lead over Moore, the current council president, throughout much of the city. The Associated Press called the race for Dickens at 10:30 p.m.

Dickens will succeed Keisha Lance Bottoms, who did not run for a second term and endorsed Dickens to replace her as mayor, a job Dickens said he has wanted since he was a teenager.

Mayor-elect Dickens stood on stage outside of the Gathering Spot with his family, Bottoms, former mayor Shirley Franklin, and others as he thanked everyone for their support.

“I’m humbled that you have put this faith in me to be the city’s next leader,” said Dickens.

Running a campaign focused on public safety and restoring the “soul of Atlanta,” Dickens overcame early low name recognition and polling numbers to secure a runoff spot with just 600 more votes than former mayor Kasim Reed.

Moore was considered the frontrunner going into the runoff after getting 41% of the vote in the general election, but Dickens quickly gained momentum, fresh big-name endorsements and a fundraising advantage.

At Moore’s campaign event at the W Atlanta hotel downtown, she thanked God, her family, and those in the audience before she said she called Dickens to congratulate him earlier.

”There’s no division tonight between the Dickens and the Moore camp because we’re all camp Atlanta,” Moore said. “The campaign is over.”

113021 Atlanta: Outgoing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addresses the crowd at Atlanta mayoral candidate and councilman Andre Dickenson's election night watch party saying they didn't want to be premature but are hoping Dickenson will make an appearance to announce an early victory on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Gathering Spot in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

While Moore performed well in Buckhead, Dickens dominated in southwest Atlanta and made up ground on the Eastside, beating Moore in precincts she won three weeks ago. She called for Buckhead residents to work with the new administration.

Dickens told supporters that he respects Moore’s desire to serve Atlanta.

“She’s put in 24 years of service and I know that she loves this city, and I hope that she’s around as we move this city forward,” said Dickens.

Gov. Brian Kemp congratulated Dickens on Twitter and said he looks “forward to working with him to combat crime, spur economic development, and ensure a brighter future for our capital city and state.”

Throughout the condensed runoff period, Dickens pitched himself as a progressive leader with bold plans to move the city forward by utilizing technology and instituting new city departments. A Mays High and Georgia Tech graduate, Dickens, 47, is also the chief development officer for TechBridge, a nonprofit that offers technology and workforce training to organizations.

Atlanta mayoral candidate Felicia Moore speaks to members of the press during a runoff election watch party held at W Atlanta hotel on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)


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Fulton County elections director Richard Barron said during a brief Tuesday evening meeting of the county elections board that the county had a “smooth” day free of major issues. He said they hope to have complete results by 11 p.m., while DeKalb officials said they hope to be done by 10 p.m.

Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said turnout was “just horrible, horrible, for an election as important as this.”

Each candidate visited around a dozen polling locations throughout the day Tuesday, hoping to encourage residents to get to the polls for an election in which voter turnout was predicted to be low.

“I’ve taken probably 400 selfies today, so I’m feeling good going into tonight,” Dickens said around 6 p.m. outside the Joan P. Garner Library at Ponce De Leon.

Yomoko Wiggins (left) and Clarence Toomer (right) campaigned at C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)


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Voters who hit the polls Tuesday said crime and affordable housing were top issues for them; a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll found those were the top two most pressing issues for residents.

Georgia Tech educator Cedric Stallworth, 54, had the opportunity Tuesday to do something few teachers have: vote for his former computer science student, Andre Dickens, as the next mayor.

“He’s going to come at it from an engineering standpoint, which is a little bit of a fresh breath of air,” said Stallworth, who voted in the Old Fourth Ward. “I know how Andre thinks, I know how he approaches problems, I’ve known him since he was 18 years old, so I’m very proud to live in a society where I’m actually voting for one of my former students for mayor.”

In the race for Atlanta City Council president, the city’s No. 2 elected post, former Woodruff Arts Center CEO Doug Shipman held a lead over Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong with most of the votes counted.

Two longtime City Council incumbents appeared to lose their seats to progressive challengers in Tuesday’s runoffs.

In the runoff for City Council district 4, which covers part of downtown and the Westside, Jason Dozier declared victory over Councilwoman Cleta Winslow, who has held her seat since 1994.

Dozier, a community advocate and Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, also ran against Winslow in 2017 and narrowly lost to her in a runoff that year.

And in District 12, southeast Atlanta, local activist Antonio Lewis appeared to have enough votes to oust veteran Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd. Liliana Bakhtiari and Jason Winston were on track to win open City Council seats, while a couple of other races remained too close to call.

For more detailed information about this race, 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.

Staff writers Anjali Huynh, Tyler Wilkins, Adrianne Murchison, Tyler Estep and Alia Malik contributed to this article.