Keisha Lance Bottoms is declaring victory this morning as Atlanta’s 60th mayor in a contentious runoff race that gave her a slim margin of 759 votes over her opponent Mary Norwood.
Norwood has requested a recount of the election that grabbed headlines around the country as race became the overarching theme of the contest to helm what is widely considered the cradle of African-American cultural, economic and political power. Atlanta has had black mayors for nearly half a century.
Since being sworn into office in January 2010, Bottoms has represented a large portion of the historic Southwest Atlanta community as a member of the Atlanta City Council. Over the course of her service, she has sponsored groundbreaking legislation that has addressed the city’s $1.5 billion unfunded pension liability and helped grow the city’s reserves from $7.4 million to nearly $150 million, in just over five years. She has also authored the toughest Panhandling legislation in the history of the city, which combines empathy with enforcement, and has resulted in offenders receiving often-needed social services to help break the cycle of recidivism. Bottoms worked with colleagues to achieve the goal of 2,000 officers within the Atlanta Police force, and to successfully balance the City’s budget each year during her time on Council, without increasing taxes. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Public Safety Committee and has served as Chair of the Council’s Zoning Committee. During her term as Vice-Chair of the city’s Transportation Committee, the Maynard H. Jackson International terminal at Hartsfield Jackson Airport opened, solidifying Hartsfield Jackson’s place as the busiest airport in the world. Most recently, she launched Invest in Southwest, a 360- degree urban planning initiative with the goal of revitalizing and expanding economic development within the Southwest Atlanta community.
Atlanta has had black mayors for nearly half a century.
In addition to the Atlanta City Council, she also serves as executive director of The City of Atlanta and Fulton County Recreation Authority (AFCRA), heading the organization that owns and oversees operations for iconic recreation and entertainment venues across Atlanta, including Turner Field (home of the Atlanta Braves), Philips Arena (home of the Atlanta Hawks), and the world renowned Zoo Atlanta. AFCRA also operates portions of John A. White Park, where the junior gold program The First Tee is hosted in southwest Atlanta. In the role, she has implemented public policy, fostered community engagement, worked alongside corporate partners, and negotiated and managed government relations and public finance.
Notably, Bottoms will work with public, private, and community partners over the next year to spearhead the high-stakes, high-profile transition of Turner Field from a Major League Baseball venue, plan the redevelopment of Philips Arena, and oversee the expansion of Zoo Atlanta, which combined represents millions of dollars in urban planning and redevelopment projects that will indelibly change the landscape of Atlanta.
Alongside her public service career, Bottoms has maintained a private law practice for more than 20 years, and has served as General Counsel for a multi-million dollar business, as well as a Judge (Pro Hoc) in Fulton County State Court. She has worked as a legal analyst and reporter for various media outlets and has served as a guest speaker and panelist during numerous events, speaking on a variety of topics, including, law, community engagement and public policy.
Bottoms and Norwood earned about 26% and 21%, respectively, of the vote in the general election on November 6, emerging as the top two candidates from a field of 11. A similar finish to the 2009 election between, Norwood and Mayor Kasim Reed — who won by just 714 votes — Norwood has hinted that she will not concede before the results of a recount.
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