Norwood and Dickens elected to city council

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Mary Norwood and Andre Dickens appear to have won seats on the Atlanta City Council over two incumbents backed by Mayor Kasim Reed.

Norwood led incumbent Aaron Watson by a narrow margin for most of the evening, but by 1 a.m., results show the former mayoral challenger with 53 percent of the vote. Watson did not concede the race immediately following the results.

Dickens, who before this election cycle was a relative unknown, finished with a 53 percent lead over incumbent H. Lamar Willis for the Post 3 position.

In the city’s other most closely watched race, Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong was leading the polls in her bid for a fourth term in District 5, a contest that drew more challengers than any other council race.

But opponent Christian Enterkin vowed to challenge election results after a ballot snafu resulted in voters receiving incorrect ballots, including some without Enterkin’s name, in at least one Candler Park precinct. Matt Rinker, also making a bid for District 5, expressed concern over the results, as well.

The candidates in the city’s top races each expressed confidence Tuesday night as they watched the returns at their respective parties.

“With over 2,500 vote difference, I am delighted the citizens of Atlanta have chosen to re-elect me,” said Norwood, no stranger to close races. She challenged Reed for the top job at City Hall four years ago, narrowly losing by 714 votes.

Reed — who sailed into his second term Tuesday — backed Watson and Willis in their respective contests.

Earlier in the night, Watson said he was confident voters would choose “success” and “courage,” but stopped short of calling the race in his favor.

“All I know is I worked very hard to serve the people and I’m satisfied with what I did,” he said around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, hours before the results.

Dickens said he expected his race against Willis to be close and thanked his supporters gathered with him at Manuel’s Tavern. The candidate could not be reached for immediate comment following his apparent victory.

“To be at this point required all these supporters,” he said, noting the tight margins. “That gives validity to the love they have.”

Willis said the results indicate Atlantans are “saying different things” with their votes: many are happy with the direction of the city and others are not.

“I’ve always been very comfortable with where I am in the public policy space,” he said late Tuesday. “At the point (voters) make a decision that’s not where I should be, I’ll move onto something else.”

It’s rare to unseat an incumbent, but Norwood challenged that conventional wisdom with name recognition gained from years on the city council. She vacated that position in 2009 to run against Reed for mayor.

Norwood lost her bid then by a slim margin, but became a household name in the process.

For Willis, victory has been less certain after he was disbarred last month for depositing a client’s settlement funds into his own account. His legal woes became his Achilles heel in the race against Dickens, a Georgia Tech administrator and candidate backed by former mayor Shirley Franklin.

The race has been marked by verbal sparring between Willis, Dickens and even Franklin, and has heated up in recent weeks with negative mailers and websites from both camps attacking their opponent.

Willis’ campaign has been bolstered by Reed’s unwavering support.

Among other races, President Ceasar Mitchell was poised to win another term and is expected to run for mayor in 2017.

Councilmembers Carla Smith, Ivory Lee Young Jr., Cleta Winslow, Alex Wan, Howard Shook, Felicia Moore, Keisha Lance Bottoms and Joyce Sheperd also were expected to win another four years at City Hall serving their respective districts.

Councilmembers Yolanda Adrean, Kwanza Hall, Michael Julian Bond, and C.T. Martin faced no challengers.