The battle’s not necessarily over yet.
Mary Norwood and Kasim Reed appeared ready to face each other in a run-off election Dec. 1 to decide who becomes mayor of Atlanta after neither candidate was able to win enough votes in the city’s Nov. 3 election that was closely watched across the nation.
Norwood was winning with about 45 percent of the vote as this newspaper went to press – short of the 50 percent required to win the election outright. Reed had won about 38 percent of the vote. City council President Lisa Borders conceded after late returns showed her trailing with roughly 14 percent of the vote.
Jesse Spikes, considered the final legitimate candidate in the race, had taken only 3 percent of the turnout. Former police officer Peter Brownlowe and Kyle Keyser trailed behind.
Still unanswered is the question of whether Atlanta residents will elect the city’s first White mayor in more than 30 years. Norwood is known for her dogged campaigning. She has sat on the city council in an at-large seat for eight years.
Reed, a state senator, and Norwood will now have to battle over voters who supported Borders and other candidates. From her campaign headquarters, Norwood told local news media she expected a runoff and would reach out to Borders’ supporters.
Major issues guiding the race include the reduction of city crime, bolstering city services and repairing city finances, which candidates claimed had been mismanaged. Racial politics also became heated after a memo was issued in late August urging voters to elect a Black mayor.
Those circulating the memo told voters to support Borders, the council’s president, instead of Norwood. Reed and local Democrats and also tried to paint Norwood as a Republican, going so far as to send out a mailer to voters linking the candidate to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
“Unfortunately, race has been and remains central to politics in Atlanta,” said Michael Owens, an urban and municipal politics expert at Emory University on Oct. 30. “The race for mayor is no different. This is true whether or not the electorate wants to acknowledge it, whether or not people wish for a ‘post-racial Atlanta,’ and whether or not the candidates see ‘one Atlanta,’ not two.”
Reed’s No. 1 issue has been public safety. He has vowed to hire hundreds of police officers with tax money – a proposal his critics say the city cannot afford. Norwood has said she will revamp the city’s auditing processes, including hiring outside financial experts to reorganize the city’s financial department.