Welcome to Atlanta.
Moore went on to chair a neighborhood planning unit, work for a powerful member of the Atlanta City Council, get elected herself to the council and ascend to the council presidency in 2017. Now, 34 years after moving to Atlanta from Indiana, she has her sights set on being Atlanta’s next mayor.
“I have invested a majority of my adult life in serving the citizens of Atlanta as an elected official and considering all of the time I have put in through the good times, or through the recession, we are really at a crossroads in the city,” Moore said. “I could have been council president again if I ran.
“But ... I realized at a point that in order to really serve people, it was time for me to step up and take the wheel to steer the city in a better direction.”
Entering the final days of the 2021 mayoral race, Moore is one of five leading contenders and constantly polls among the top two, alongside former Mayor Kasim Reed.
“We have a lot of problems in this city and she can be the leader that I have not seen us have in many years,” said supporter Carol Baird, 70, who met the candidate 20 years ago when Moore stepped in to stop a controversial development project in District 9′s Ridgewood Heights.
That is how Moore was greeted recently when she walked into a Mexican restaurant in Midtown for a meet and greet with members of Atlanta’s LGBTQ community.
The greeting was an intentional riff on the dry, and often stinging “Bye Felicia.” A warm welcome from voters looking for something different.
Credit: Steve Schaefer
Credit: Steve Schaefer
Moore walked into the restaurant wearing a plum pantsuit and a bright smile. She addressed pockets of supporters who sipped on margaritas. When she finally took the mic to address the full crowd, she meticulously presented her case as to why she should be the next mayor.
She reminded them how she pushed through legislation in 2004 to create Mattie’s Call, a quick-response alert system to help locate patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia who wander away from their homes. And how in 2011, the city remade its pension program for municipal employees largely based on a proposal that she had crafted.
She talked about her plan to fight violent crime in the city — focusing on children, cops, courts, community and code enforcement. As part of her crime plan, Moore has promised to provide incentives to rehire at least 200 new officers within her first 100 days.
Moore’s detail for policy was evident, and her delivery was straightforward. Her only laugh line was a biting shot at Reed, her number one rival in the race: “I am not under investigation, not rumored to be under investigation or expect to be under investigation.”
A recent AJC poll of likely voters found Moore and Reed in a statistical tie for the lead, and three other candidates lagging behind.
Moore, who grew up the only girl in what she called a “rough and tumble” house full of brothers, has never been afraid of a fight.
In February of 1997, she broke norms when as a city employee, she went before the city council’s utilities/transportation committee to speak out against a plan to privatize the sewer and water operations and how the city was handling sewage issues at the R.M. Clayton wastewater treatment plant.
Moore, who was working as an assistant to council member Gloria Tinubu at the time, accused the council members of going along with the proposal without understanding its consequences.
“Most of y’all don’t read what you get anyway,” she said at the time.
Nine months later, she beat incumbent Atlanta City Councilman Jared Samples for the District 9 seat.
As a voting member on the council, she developed a reputation as a fiscal hawk, who as one unnamed council member said: “Never voted yes on a city budget. She never voted yes to move this city forward.”
Moore said that is not true. She has voted yes on a handful of budgets.
“I can back up every no vote that I have ever made,” Moore said.
Case in point. In 1998, her first full year on the council, Moore was one of only two council members who voted no on privatizing the city’s water department. United Water took over management of the city’s water system in January 1999 at the price of $21.4 million a year.
Mayor Bill Campbell at the time called it “a great victory for the people of Atlanta.”
Moore wasn’t convinced.
“I kept trying to implore the city not to do it because I did the research,” Moore said. “In the end, I said that ‘I believe that I was absolutely right in voting no, but I hope I am proven wrong one day.’”
She wasn’t. In 2003, and $80 million later, under mayor Shirley Franklin, the city dissolved the relationship with United Water.
Gina Pagnotta Murphy, president of the local chapter of Professional Association of City Employees (PACE), said Moore has always been straightforward.
“Over the years that I have been able to go before council, she was always engaged and, honestly, the only one who asked questions about city services and the employers,” Murphy said. “She was very concerned all the time about the welfare of the city employees. And if she didn’t vote the way we wanted, she would explain to us why.
“I respect that.”
PACE, which has about 450 members, has endorsed Moore.
Although she moved to Atlanta in 1987 and bought her first home four years later, the seeds of living here were planted in high school.
In 1979, Moore went on a Black college tour that swung through Atlanta. On the night before visiting the Atlanta University Center, Moore and some friends snuck out of their hotel room and found their way to Cisco’s, a club on Campbellton Road.
“I thought I had died and gone to Black Hollywood,” said Moore, who is also a licensed real estate broker.
Moore ended up going to college at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, before returning to Indianapolis to live with her parents — Lillie, who worked for the EEOC, and Joseph, a member of the local school board.
“If you ask me where my commitment and drive comes from when it comes to ethics, transparency and accountability it comes from my parents,” Moore said.
Profiling the candidates:
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will publish deep profiles of the five major Atlanta mayoral candidates as part of the newspaper’s comprehensive coverage of the 2021 Race for City Hall. Those candidates garnered at least 1% support in a recent University of Georgia School of Public & International Affairs poll commissioned by the AJC. There are 14 candidates on the ballot. You can learn more about each of them by going to ajc.com and clicking on our page dedicated to coverage of the race for Atlanta mayor
We want to hear from you:
If you have tips to share, questions for the candidates or if you want to tell us how you think we are doing in covering the race for mayor, please write us at email@example.com.
To view all of the AJC’s coverage of the 2021 Atlanta elections, go to https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-mayors-race-2021/
Schedule of Profiles:
Monday: Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown
Tuesday: Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens
Wednesday: Attorney Sharon Gay
Today: Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore
Friday: Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed