Retired Army officer Mike Russell enters Atlanta council president race

Retired Army office Mike Russell spoke during a recently forum for Atlanta City Council president candidates sponsored by the Committee for a Better Atlanta on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
Retired Army office Mike Russell spoke during a recently forum for Atlanta City Council president candidates sponsored by the Committee for a Better Atlanta on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

‘Common-sense conservative’ makes crime his top issue

A small business owner and former Army officer is joining the open race for Atlanta City Council president.

Mike Russell said he entered the race because of rising crime in Atlanta, and that his military background and law enforcement training make him the best candidate to tackle the issue.

“We need somebody who will stand up who knows policing and that will help us solve the root cause of all these problems,” Russell said in an interview.

The seat will be open in the Nov. 2 election since current Council President Felicia Moore is running for mayor. Three other candidates have launched bids for the post: Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong, former Atlanta Public Schools board chair Courtney English and former Woodruff Arts Center CEO Doug Shipman.

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While Atlanta city elections are nonpartisan, Russell said he would describe himself as a “common-sense conservative” if he had to put a label on his politics. He has never held elected office, but believes his message will resonate with Atlantans concerned about public safety.

“The number one issue for everyone is crime,” he said. “That transcends race or income or educational level.”

Russell said he wants to see the Atlanta Police Department move more officers off of administrative duty and into street patrol roles to make up for shortages on the force. He said education and race relations are also priorities for his campaign.

The council president is in charge of leading meetings and becomes mayor if the mayor leaves their post. The president cannot introduce legislation, and only votes in the event of a tie.

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