Home / U.S. / Counting looms in the Atlanta mayor's race too close to the call

Counting looms in the Atlanta mayor's race too close to the call



The mayoral race in Atlanta early Wednesday was too close to call, with one candidate declaring himself the city's new leader and the other swearing to request a recount.

The margin was slim, with several hundred votes separating Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood.

Bottoms spoke early Wednesday at an Atlanta hotel, saying near the end of his speech that "I am amazed at what God can do."

"I am so honored to be your 60th mayor," he told his enthusiastic supporters.

But Norwood took the podium at his own rally and said that ballots in the absence of military members were not yet in the totals, and he believes some ballots still have to be tabulated.

"We will ask for a recount," said Norwood.

Only 759 votes separated the candidates early on Wednesday, Norwood told supporters.

The funds brought Norwood by a margin of less than 1

percent, which is the threshold where the second-ranked can request a recount under state law.

The contest between Bottoms, which is black, and Norwood, which is white, was seen as proof of the staying power of a long dominant black political machine in the midst of profound demographic and economic changes.

Both women are members of the Atlanta City Council. Norwood calls himself independent and Bottoms is the elected successor to outgoing Mayor Kasim Reed.

A victory for Bottoms, 47, would continue a series of African-American mayors that began with Maynard Jackson in the mid-1970s.

A victory for Norwood, 65, would give Atlanta its first mayor White, and would end the control of the Democratic Party in an office that has occupied without interruption since 1879.

Half a century after the white flight caused an expansion that fueled legendary traffic jams, Atlanta is in full economic boom and is growing at a rate vertiginous, with terraced houses and apartments rising in vacant lots throughout the city. Some parts of the city are more diverse, young and rich than in years.

Political analysts have said African-American voters will finally determine the outcome, but many of the city's most formidable challenges transcend race. Everyone seems to worry about transportation, public safety and affordable housing. As rents and home prices skyrocket, some veteran residents struggle to stay in their neighborhoods and do not have to move easily if they move.

"We are behind in terms of having a modern transportation system compared to what you see in New York or Washington," said Kendra A. King Momon, a professor of politics at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

"It affects the quality of life because most of us do not know what we're going to run into when heading to the city," he said of the notorious traffic jams in Atlanta. "That is a big problem that we have to address."

A big question is whether an ongoing federal investigation into corruption in municipal contracting under Reed's supervision will encourage voters to look again at Norwood, despite fears that as independents he lives in the exclusive area from Buckhead to the city, she will become a stealthy Republican who will serve up City Hall for Georgia's dark red political apparatus.

When voters went to the polls on Tuesday, none spoke openly of race.

"Just by listening to Keisha and comparing what she said to Mrs. Norwood's words, I felt she shared my values ​​more," said Barbara McFarlin, a 50-year-old black woman living in southwestern Atlanta. District Bottoms has represented in the municipal council.

James Parson, a 49-year-old black man who also lives in the Bottoms district, said he has been a friend of Norwood for three decades and appreciates how it has been made available to voters. about the city as a cou in general ncil member.

"I love that Mary is connected to most communities in Atlanta, if not all," he said. "She's approachable, she's been here, it's not Johnny-come-lately."

Atlanta's last white mayor, Sam Massell, stepped down in 1974 and was succeeded by five African-American mayors in the following four decades: Jackson, Andrew Young, Bill Campbell, Shirley Franklin and Reed. Regardless of who wins, Atlanta will have its second mayor, following Franklin who left office in 2010.

Jeffrey Brower, 45, a white man living in the East Atlanta neighborhood, said he voted for Norwood, but that his vote was more a vote against Bottoms and Reed. Bottoms is too close to Reed and would be like an extension of the current administration, he said.

"Kasim seemed to be more about what is better for Kasim than what is best for the city," Brower said.

The writers of The Associated Press Kate Brumback and Errin Haines Whack contributed to this report.


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