ATLANTA (NewsNation Now) — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Thursday night she would not seek re-election for a second term as the city’s mayor.
Bottoms was elected in 2017 after a close election against her opponent Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood. She was the city’s second Black woman executive.
Bottoms publicly announced the decision in a letter posted to her Twitter account after a private call with staffers, family and friends.
“As Derek and I have given thoughtful prayer and consideration to the season now before us,
it is with deep emotions that I hold my head high, and choose not to seek another term as Mayor,” said Bottoms.
The mayor spoke publicly Friday morning, visibly choked up, as she formally announced her decision.
“Someone said to me yesterday whatever you do don’t cry,” said Bottoms. “It is abundantly clear to me today that it is time to pass the baton on to someone else.”
Her letter also dismissed any criticisms the decision was made based on her inability to win.
“‘Can she win again?’ ABSOUTELY. Multiple credible polls have shown that if the race for
Mayor were held today, I would be re-elected,” wrote Bottoms.
Bottoms is Atlanta’s 60th mayor and navigated the city through the coronavirus, a rise in crime and the 2020 election.
Bottoms’ tenure has been a mix of rough-and-tumble City Hall politics and an ever-brightening national spotlight for her beyond the city. She was among Biden’s earliest endorsers and watched her profile rise early during the coronavirus pandemic and the renewed attention on policing in the United States after George Floyd’s killing by a white Minneapolis officer last spring.
She drew plaudits for a nationally televised news conference in which she chided protesters to “go home” while noting her own experiences as a mother of Black sons to empathize with citizens distraught over police violence.
She had been reportedly offered a cabinet position in the Biden administration, but turned it down to remain Atlanta’s mayor.
Biden marked 100 days in office in Georgia with rallies and campaign events for Bottoms and Georgia’s two Democratic senators.
Bottoms came to the mayor’s office as an ally of her predecessor, Kasim Reed, whose endorsement proved critical in her campaign. But she sought to establish her own identity, in no small part because of a long-running FBI investigation in City Hall contracts and finances during Reed’s tenure.
The “far-reaching and ever-growing” investigation, she said Thursday, “consumed City Hall, often leaving employees paralyzed, and fearful of making the smallest of mistakes, lest they too be investigated, or castrated on the evening news.”
Bottoms has never been implicated.
Early in her term, Bottoms eliminated cash bail in Atlanta and ended the city jail’s relationship with federal immigration enforcement agencies, joining big-city mayors around the country in criticizing then-President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies. Her administration navigated a cyberattack on the city’s computer systems early in her tenure.
She helped renegotiate the long-term redevelopment of “The Gulch,” part of the city’s old railroad footprint downtown. But the city did not score the biggest potential prize for the location: the second Amazon headquarters that instead is being built in northern Virginia, outside Washington, D.C.
An Atlanta native and graduate of Florida A&M University, a prominent historically Black college, Bottoms is just the second Black woman to lead the city. She joined Shirley Franklin, who served two terms from 2002-2010. Bottoms noted her family’s deep ties to the city and surrounding region whose history traces Black America’s arc from slavery and Jim Crow segregation to the ongoing legacy of institutional racism.
“My ancestors, direct descendants of the once enslaved, traveled by horse and buggy from the cotton fields of east Georgia in search of a better life for themselves and their children in Atlanta,” she wrote. “I have carried their belief for a better tomorrow in my heart, their earnest work ethic in my being, and their hopes for generations not yet born on my mind, each day that I have been privileged to serve as the 60th Mayor of Atlanta.”
Bottoms conludes her letter with, “I love you Atlanta. Thank you for the honor of serving as your Mayor.
With Atlanta in my heart and Georgia on my mind.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Read the full letter
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