The polls opened early Tuesday morning for Atlanta voters in the runoff mayoral election with two Black candidates, Felicia Moore and Andre Dickens, vying for the city’s top spot. It is one of many races still happening in Georgia, including other mayoral runoffs and tense fights for city council seats across the state.
Current City Council President Moore won 41% of the vote on Nov. 2 followed by fellow City Council member Dickens at 23% in a race of 14 candidates.
The race for the mayoral seat has been heated since Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced she wouldn’t be seeking a second term back in May. Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed sought a third term and even though his tenure as mayor ended with accusations of corruption, he narrowly missed inclusion in the runoff by coming in third behind Dickens.
Bottoms has since thrown her support behind Dickens, who has endorsements from many other high profile Georgians, but Moore seems to have a more diverse support pulling from whiter, wealthier communities such as Buckhead.
Both candidates plan on canvassing throughout the day, WSBTV reports, and are depending on today’s voter turnout to end the race for good.
According to the Associated Press, both candidates have agreed on addressing crime and complaints with city services as mayor but they differ on how to go about it.
Moore and Dickens have both focused on getting more officers onto the street quickly. But they differ on some other details. Moore has said she’d immediately seek a new police chief, while Dickens has said he might keep current Chief Rodney Bryant, who came out of retirement in 2020 after the previous chief stepped down following a fatal police shooting of a Black man that led to unrest.
Dickens has said he’s willing to let Fulton County temporarily use a mostly empty city jail to relieve overcrowding, while Moore said she’d consider letting the county take over the jail permanently.
Dickens voted for a failed measure that would have withheld a third of the police department’s budget until the mayor came up with a plan to overhaul the police department. Moore, who only votes when the council is tied, said she opposed the measure and accused Dickens of favoring defunding the police. Dickens denies that was his aim.
Some opponents of Moore attacked her as the favorite of white voters, a frequent tactic in a city where many white and Black voters are divided by income and geography. Both Moore and Dickens are Black, and Moore has dismissed that her support should be held against her.
While the two go head to head, Moore has been portrayed as a naysayer and lone wolf while Dickens plays into the amount of high profile support he has received. Moore is also fighting for her reputation and street cred in this race as Atlanta business owners and musicians (looking at you especially, T.I.) accuse her of trying to shut down Atlanta’s night and strip clubs.
Both candidates have shared their excitement about whatever results come in once polls close tonight.