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(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA (AP) — The race for mayor in Atlanta early Wednesday was too close to call, with one candidate declaring herself the city’s new leader and the other vowing to request a recount.

The margin was razor-thin, with just a few hundred votes separating Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood.

Bottoms spoke early Wednesday at an Atlanta hotel, saying near the end of her speech that “I am just in awe of what God is able to do.”

“I’m so honored to be your 60th mayor,” she told her cheering supporters.

But Norwood took the podium at her own rally and said that absentee ballots from military members were yet to figure in the totals, and that she believes that some ballots have yet to be tabulated.

“We will be asking for a recount,” Norwood said.

Just 759 votes separated the candidates early Wednesday morning, Norwood told supporters.

Bottoms led Norwood by a margin of less than 1 percent, which is the threshold where the second-place finisher can request a recount under state law.

The contest between Bottoms, who is black, and Norwood, who is white, was seen as a test of the staying power of a long-dominant black political machine amid profound demographic and economic changes.

Both women are Atlanta city council members.

Norwood, who calls herself an independent, and Keisha Lance Bottoms, the chosen successor of outgoing Mayor Kasim Reed.

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

A win for Norwood, 65, would give Atlanta its first-ever white female mayor, and end the Democratic Party’s hold on an office it has held without interruption since 1879.

A half-century after white flight led to sprawl that fueled legendary traffic jams, Atlanta is booming economically and growing at a breakneck pace, with townhouses and apartments going up in vacant lots all over town. Parts of the city are more diverse, younger and wealthier than they have been in years.

Political analysts have said African-American voters will ultimately determine the outcome, but many of the city’s most formidable challenges transcend race. Everyone seems to care about transportation, public safety and affordable housing. As rents and home prices soar, some longtime residents struggle to stay in their neighborhoods, and face no easy commutes if they move out.

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

“It impacts quality of life because most of us don’t know what we’re going to run into when we head into the city,” she said of Atlanta’s notorious traffic jams. “That’s a huge issue that we have to address.”

A big question is whether an ongoing federal probe of corruption in city contracting under Reed’s watch will encourage voters to take a fresh look at Norwood, despite fears that as an independent who lives in the upscale Buckhead area of the city, she’ll turn out to be a stealth Republican who will serve up City Hall to Georgia’s deep-red political apparatus.

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

“Just listening to Keisha and comparing what she said to the words of Ms. Norwood, I felt like she shared my values more,” said Barbara McFarlin, a 50-year-old black woman who lives in the southwest Atlanta district Bottoms has represented on the city council.

James Parson, a 49-year-old black man who also lives in Bottoms’ district, said he’s been friends with Norwood for three decades and appreciates how she’s made herself available to constituents all over the city as an at-large council member.

“I love that Mary is connected to most of the communities in Atlanta, if not all of them,” he said. “She’s approachable. She has been here. She’s no Johnny-come-lately.”

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

Jeffrey Brower, 45, a white man who lives 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’s best for Kasim than what’s best for the city,” Brower said.


Contributors include Associated Press writers Kate Brumback and Errin Haines Whack.

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18 thoughts on “Atlanta Mayoral Candidate Requests Recount After Losing By Slim Margin

  1. It is good to see most people voting on issues, performance and platforms, rather than just race, religion, sex or other personal things. However the recount turns out, a woman will be Atlanta’s next mayor. Maybe a female leader can stop some of the culture of sexual harassment and violence toward women so prevalent these days. All crimes, including allegations of sexual harassment and other sex crimes, should be thoroughly and objectively investigated, and all those involved should be encouraged to take polygraph exams to “separate the wheat from the chaff”: to eliminate false or vengeful claims by attention-seekers and those trying to hit a big payday via lawsuits, as well as eliminate false and lame excuses by perpetrators who insult our intelligence by saying, “I did not have sex with that woman.” Polygraph exams are not foolproof, but can often weed out obvious lies, so we can devote our limited law enforcement resources and limited taxpayer $ to true and serious offenses. People who lie should be charged and prosecuted for perjury. In the meantime, Senator “Me, Al Franken,” Judge Roy “Cowboy” Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, Coach Jerry Sandusky, “shirtless Anthony” Weiner, Bill O’Reilly, Louis C.K., etc, I suggest you attend Stuart Smalley’s 12-step self-help group. After you complete “the program,” you can say with pride, “Doggone it, people LIKE me!” and savor the pleasures of the fine El Presidente’ Cigar…..the fine cigar with the latex tip to protect against exposure to disease-infected bodily fluids, in these troubled times of AIDS, Ebola, and now, Zika……

      • Can we let President Obama rest already! This is about Atlanta and it’s politics. White folk had to vote for Keisha too because black folk won’t go vote. I hope whoever have a thick skin, some integrity and a good plan to move Atlanta forward. I couldn’t stand Kasim Reed. I voted for him and regretted that. Hopefully I will not regret voting for Lance Bottoms.

  2. specialt757 on said:

    Some people continue to think “if it’s WHITE it’s right” and everything black is wrong. Look what the country did to Obama, they called him all kinds of racists names, said all kinds of vile things about him and his family, not because he was a bad person, or was a liar and thief who stole from his own charity, but because he was black. I wouldn’t vote for someone just because they are black, the candidate should stand on a platform I believe in, not all black candidates fit the bill. Hmmm talk about voting for someone because of their skin color, the white folks who didn’t vote for Bottoms is because she is black, no other reason. With only an estimated 17% black voter turnout, it doesn’t appear it mattered too much, they didn’t care enough about skin color or anything else to vote. What a shame.

  3. When the margin of votes is this close-maybe a RECOUNT is in order.
    One only has to remember the Bush/Gore mess with those damn “Hanging Chads.”

    Ms. Bottoms may have been premature in declaring herself the winner.

    Let the recount take place, let all VOTES BE COUNTED AND TALLIED UP.
    May the best WOMAN WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Tim, Ms. Norwood spoke about thugs, felons and all those coming out of the projects. Now, who do you think she was referring to?!! When it came down to wanting to win, she went straight to the republican play book, disparaging propaganda and fear tactics of a particular ethnicity of people. Bush 1 played with very well during his campaign – – they all do it when it becomes necessary to push to the finish line. Would Ms. Norwood have been a good mayor should the final count go to Ms. Bottoms – – maybe, but her comments have tarnished herself with me because that’s what I see when I see her.

  5. Tim – first of all, if you don’t live in Atlanta – how do you know what went on and if Ms Bottoms will follow the former mayor’s playbook. And why should we listen to y? And what makes you think Norwood would be any better for Black people?? At the end of the day Politicians are still politicians! Most are crooked or have had to do shady things to get what they want! And don’t for one minute think the white people are voting for Norwood just because she “is a good candidate”!!!

    • Tim Green on said:

      Chris i live 5min outside Atlanta sooooooo, yeah & the point of what I said applies to all races but I spoke about US because if you look at certain communties we keep shooting ourselves in foot voting for the same for the sake of maintaining a black legacy instead of who is actually serious about improving my community. Kaseem Reed did things that CLEARLY were not in the best interest of the city hence the lawsuits & investigations, not saying that Norwood or Bottoms will be any better .., my point was we need to be VERY VERY careful when it comes to “choosing sides” just based off skin color … and if your rebuttal is “Well they do it to” then youre the idiot that should jump off a bridge because “they did it too”

      • Tim – first of all you don’t know me nor do I know! YOU were the one who said the results of this election wouldn’t affect you! I’ve never been one to jump on the bandwagon because others do! Just because Bottoms is Black doesn’t mean she WON’T work for the betterment for ALL Citizens – as with NORWOOD won’t necessarily work for the betterment of ALL Citizens – especially BLACKS! To insinuate one may be an idiot because they disagree shows the level of your intelligence! When they go low, One should go high!

  6. Tim Green on said:

    Man we minorities need to be very careful to not just vote based off skin color, just because someone looks like us doesnt mean they’re looking out for us & versa vice, Mayor Reeds did some shady dealings while in power, and he wants to pass the mantle to Ms Bottoms. Ms Norwood has a very positive reputation in the black community, so people who want to discount her simply because of skin color could be doing themselves a grave injustice … Im not an Atlanta resident so the new mayor will have no effect on me, just feel alot of voters in general too frequently let themselves be swaded one way or another over the things they need to be worried about the least

      • Jhuf – EVERY TIME I read a response from you – it’s always NEGATIVE!! Tell us please – what have you done for ANY Black Community????? Stop bitching about what Blacks are/are not; could, should, would; will/won’t etc etc etc!!!! You complain the most and more than likely do the least!!!

      • Oh please Jhuf with that nonsense. Look how many cities with non blacks that are having problems (look at the United States right now with a non black in office). There are cities ran by blacks and minorities that have done good/great. Savannah was is one and others. So do not paint a few cities to represent all.

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