Race for Atlanta City Hall: Attorney Sharon A. Gay sets up run for mayor

Dentons attorney Sharon A. Gay is entering the race for Atlanta mayor in this year’s election.
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Dentons attorney Sharon A. Gay is entering the race for Atlanta mayor in this year’s election.

Dentons attorney Sharon A. Gay is entering the race for Atlanta mayor in this year’s election.

Gay filed legal documents with the city last week allowing her to raise funds for a mayoral campaign, records show. Her entrance into the fray creates another challenge for incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is already poised to face Atlanta City Council President Felicia A. Moore on Nov. 2.

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Gay — who has yet to formally launch a campaign — is a senior counsel in public policy practice for Dentons, a multinational entity that is the world’s largest law firm by number of lawyers and offices. Angelo Fuster, Gay’s volunteer spokesman and a former advisor to former Mayor Maynard Jackson, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Gay’s preliminary fundraising will gauge the size of her support.

“Sharon is not playing games here,” Fuster said. “She’s heard enough about the widespread frustration with the current mayor.”

Prior to joining Dentons, Gay served as vice president of governmental affairs for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, according to her biography. She is also a former deputy chief of staff and executive counsel to former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell. She previously clerked for United States District Court Judge Horace Ward and Georgia Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jack Sognier.

Bottoms, who turned down an offer to serve in President Joe Biden’s administration, said she plans to run for re-election. Biden went on to support his ally with the first campaign fundraiser he’s headlined since he became president, raising more than $525,000 for Bottoms’ campaign.

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During a recent interview with Frank Ski on station R&B Kiss 104.1, Bottoms said she’s going to “continue to to do right by the people of Atlanta” instead of focusing on the competition for her office.

“I’ll put up my record against anybody any day of the week and we’ll let the voters of Atlanta decide,” Bottoms said.

Moore, who has served with Bottoms together on the City Council for eight years, says crime would be her top priority as mayor. While some argue the Bottoms administration can take more aggressive steps to combat crime, the mayor attributes the spike to the coronavirus pandemic, calling gun violence and aggravated assaults “a COVID crime wave.”

“When the city has urgent issues of crime, roads, homelessness, service delivery and the fabric of our quality of life in our city, then I think it’s expected that the Mayor would attract challengers,” Moore said. “I’m known for addressing issues, openness, willingness to listen, and commitment to ethics and accountability. That’s what I bring to the table.”

A spokesman for the mayor’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Gay’s filing Monday.

Formal qualifying for the mayor’s race happens later this year. If no single candidate receives at least 50% plus one vote, then the race for mayor will continue in a General Run-off Election on Nov. 30.