Andre Dickens
Atlanta mayoral runoff candidate Andre Dickens gives his victory speech Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, in Atlanta. Dickens, a city council member, won the runoff, riding a surge of support that powered him past the council’s current president, Felicia Moore, after finishing second to her in November. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)
Listen to this article here

ATLANTA, Ga. — In a runoff election to become Atlanta’s next mayor, Atlanta City Councilmember Andre Dickens, 47, beat out current council president Felicia Moore after finishing second in November. 

He is now Mayor-Elect. 

Dickins focused on violence in the city during his campaign, arguing that he would be more effective as mayor than Moore, who found herself sometimes alone in criticizing previous mayors during her 20 years on Council.

Among 14 candidates in a nonpartisan mayoral race, Moore commanded a significant lead in the first round of voting on Nov. 2, but fell short in the run-off.

Current Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms opened the door to a wide-open succession race after announcing her intention not to seek a second term in May,

With class, she took to Twitter and congratulated Mayor-elect Dickens. 

Mayor-elect Andre Dickens

A native of Atlanta and trained as an engineer, Dickens joined the Council in 2013. As a result of his extensive experience, he believes he will be able to take on a wide range of city issues, including urban crime and affordable housing. In addition, keeping the wealthy Buckhead neighborhood part of Atlanta and enhancing ailing city services were other priority issues in the race.

“We voted for progress and a problem solver, for a bridge builder, for transformation,” Dickens told the crowd of hundreds during his victory speech Tuesday night at the Gathering Spot. “And this work will start right now. We can’t wait any longer to address these issues.”

Despite trailing the pack and making the runoff, Dickins finishes first, ahead of city council President Moore and former two-term Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed — ending his comeback attempt. 

Sea of Endorsements for Dickens

Dickens’s momentum continued in the runoff, with endorsements by Bottoms, U.S. Rep. and Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Nikema Williams, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, and Sharon Gay, an attorney who finished fourth in Nov. 2 voting.

“I draw circles; I don’t draw lines,” Dickens said. “And the circle tonight got real large.”

In Atlanta, as in many other cities across the country, there has been an increase in homicides in recent years.

According to the Associated Press, “homicides rose 10 percent over the same period last year and 57 percent compared with 2019, Atlanta police data shows. Several of those killings captured widespread attention.”

Police Reform

Several weeks after the tense demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned. Nevertheless, he pledges to emphasize community policing and increase the number of police officers to deal with the rising gang violence in the city. 

In addition to increasing affordable housing and improving infrastructure, Dickens wants to ensure residents qualify for high-paying jobs. In his speech Tuesday night, he acknowledged the city’s problems but ended with an optimistic assessment of the city’s ability to change.

Moore Calls for Unity 

“Like they say, Atlanta influences everything,” Dickens said. “And it’s time that we use that influence to make some real change. Atlanta needs to show the world that we are leading, that we are leading on public safety, on criminal justice reform, that we are leading on affordable housing and eliminating the inequality that we have.”

At her concession speech, Moore, 60, called for unity, saying she and Dickens’ supporters are all part of “camp Atlanta.”

“We have to be called to do the thing that we wanted everyone else to do, and that brings this city together,” Moore said, urging Buckhead residents to work with Dickens and to not secede from the city. 

Citizens Perspectives 

At Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church, 25-year-old Alexander Dawes voted for Dickens on Tuesday. Dawes said Dickens’ transparency and stance on public safety played a significant role in his decision.

“I think there are multiple approaches to address crime,” Dawes said. “Of course, staffing is important but also having officers present in the community. That’s important to build back that trust between the police and the community.”

With the belief that Moore was the candidate most focused on curbing crime, Jennifer and Joe Moyers, both 60, voted for Moore. 

In a city where white and African-American voters are often separated by income and geography, some Moore critics dismissed her as a favorite of white voters.

Notably, Moore and Dickens are Black. In response to the criticism, Moore dispelled the notion that her support among a majority of White voters should be viewed negatively.

With her record of 20 years serving on the Council, 3 of those years sitting as council president, Moore sought to appeal to voters hungry for change while presenting herself as someone who would bring transparency and accountability to city government.

Nevertheless, Dickens portrayed Moore as a naysayer and a person who has had difficulty working with others.

Dickins is the Chief Development Officer for TechBridge, a nonprofit that connects nonprofits with affordable technology and business expertise. As part of his efforts to improve access to high-paying jobs in Atlanta, Dickins created a program to train people in technology work.

The Black Wall Street Times is a news publication located in Tulsa, Okla. and Atlanta, Ga. At The BWSTimes, we focus on elevating the stories of our beloved Greenwood community, elevating the stories of...