Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Thursday that she will not be seeking a second term, a surprise in the election year that marks a sharp turnaround for the city’s second black mayor, who months ago was one of those presiding over President Biden. considered a possible running mate. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the decision “astonishing.”
Bottoms, 51, announced her decision publicly on Thursday evening in a lengthy open letter and accompanying video, after telling family and a close circle of staff and supporters.
The tweeted letter began with the words “Dear Atlanta.”
“With deep emotions, I hold my head high and choose not to seek another term as mayor,” Bottoms wrote, saying she had prayed about the decision with her husband, Derek, a director at the Home Depot Inc.
She scheduled a press conference for Friday morning.
Bottoms, who narrowly won a second election four years ago, resisted all questions about whether she could have taken a second win later this year. She pointed to a March re-election fundraiser with Mr. Biden and said polls showed her in a strong position.
“‘Is she afraid of the competition?’ NEVER, ”Bottoms wrote.
The Journal-Constitution noted that the fundraising was the president’s first headline since taking office, raising more than $ 500,000, calling it “a sign of her strong financial position and national political connections.”
The paper said her move “creates a wide-open mayoral race this year and will likely open the door to a ton of new candidates.”
City council president Felicia Moore has already announced her mayoral bid.
WGCL-TV, affiliated with CBS Atlanta, spoke to political analyst Rashad Richey, who said the crime rates in the city could have led to Bottoms’ decision. He said he expected the floodgates to open to potential candidates, including city councilors Antonio Brown, Amir R. Farokhi and Andre Dickens.
Bottoms’ tenure was a mix of rough town hall politics and an ever-glowing national spotlight for her.
She was one of Mr Biden’s early supporters and took a risk early on in a busy Democratic primary campaign. She was later awarded as one of the women he considered his running mate, though he eventually chose another black woman, Kamala Harris, then a California senator who is now the first woman to hold the national office.
Nevertheless, Bottoms saw her profile rise during the coronavirus pandemic and with the renewed focus on policing in the United States following the murder of George Floyd by a white officer in Minneapolis last spring.
She praised a press conference on national television in which she rebuked protesters for “going home,” while noting her own experiences as a mother of black sons to empathize with citizens distraught over police brutality. She promised to review Atlanta police procedures in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder.
Still, just weeks later, Bottoms was criticized when an Atlanta police officer shot Rayshard Brooks dead. The officer, Garrett Rolfe, was fired last June, a day after he shot the black man in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant. Rolfe was later charged with murder.
The Atlanta Civil Service Board turned back on Wednesday, finding that the city was not following its own procedures and Rolfe was not allowing proper procedure. Bottoms then said that Rolfe would remain on administrative leave while the criminal charges against him are resolved.
The mayor did not mention Floyd or Brooks in her announcement letter, but instead focused on giving pay rises to the city’s police and firefighters, alluding to a “social justice movement (that) was taking over our streets and we persisted “.
Bottoms came to the mayor’s office as an ally of her predecessor, Kasim Reed, whose approval proved pivotal in her campaign. But she tried to establish her own identity, not least because of a long-running FBI investigation into City Hall contracts and finances during Al’s tenure.
The “far-reaching and ever-growing” investigation, she said Thursday, “consumed City Hall, often leaving workers paralyzed and afraid of making the smallest mistakes so that they too would not be investigated or neutered on the evening news.”
Soils are never involved.
Early in her term, Bottoms dropped bail in Atlanta and ended the city jail’s relationship with federal immigration enforcement agencies, joining mayors of major cities across the country to criticize the then president’s harsh immigration policies. Trump. Her administration carried out a cyber attack on the city’s computer systems early on in her tenure.
She helped renegotiate the long-term redevelopment of “The Gulch”, part of the city’s old railway footprint in the center. But the city didn’t score the biggest potential prize for the location: the second Amazon headquarters to be built instead in northern Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C.
Born in Atlanta and a graduate of Florida A&M University, a prominent historically black university, Bottoms is just the second black woman to run the city. She joined Shirley Franklin, who served two terms from 2002 to 2010. Bottoms pointed to 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 slaves, 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 in my heart their faith for a brighter future, their sincere work ethic in my being, and their hope for generations not yet born in my mind, every day I have had the privilege of serving as the 60th Mayor from Atlanta. ”