Atlanta voters overwhelmingly gave Mayor Kasim Reed their stamp of approval Tuesday night, as the incumbent mayor cruised to a landslide victory over a trio of challengers. Reed received almost 40,000 votes (39,665) in the municipal election while not one of his challengers amassed more than 3,000, according to data from the Fulton County government’s website.
Reed defeated mediator Al Bartell, financial planner Fraser Duke and consultant Glenn Wrightson. It was a nonpartisan race and none of the three challengers reported receiving any campaign contributions. Reed reported raising $6 million for his re-election campaign.
“Four years ago, all of you had to stay up late for the election results, but tonight you get to go to sleep early,” Reed said at a party at a downtown Atlanta hotel. “Today the city of Atlanta has given me the high honor of another four years. I promise to give you everything I got for the next four years with all my heart.”
So confident was Reed in an eventual triumph that at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning he sent out invitations to “celebrate his re-election victory with supporters and community members.”
Like the mayor’s office, much of the Atlanta City Council will remain unchanged. Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell won victory by a wide margin, defeating challenger Rachele Fruit by nearly 25,000 votes. Council members Carla Smith, Ivory Young Jr., Cleta Winslow, Natalyn Archibong, Alex Wan, Howard Shook, Felicia Moore and Keisha Lance Bottoms also won their contested races easily. Michael Julian Bond, C.T. Martin, Joyce Sheperd, Yolanda Adrean and Kwanza Hall all ran unopposed and will begin new terms.
The results for incumbents Aaron Watson and H. Lamar Willis who occupied two of the Council’s three at-large seats were not as favorable. After starting the night ahead, both Watson and Willis fell behind in their races and never caught up. Watson faced Mary Norwood, who held the District 2 At-Large seat until 2009 when she challenged Reed as mayor in an effort that fell just short. The 2013 ended with the challenger garnering around 2600 more votes. Norwood got 53 percent of vote (24,628), with Watson netting 47 percent (22,005).
On Wednesday morning, Norwood sent an email to supporters thanking them for their efforts.
“I am so grateful to you all! Our campaign was a tremendous TEAM effort, with Atlantans from all over our city coming together and supporting my return to City Hall to serve you again,” she said in part of the letter. “…WOW! It’s a GREAT DAY, Atlanta! And I’m ready and excited to work for you all again!
In the Council Post 3 At-Large race, Andre Dickens received 53 percent of votes (22,478), with incumbent H. Lamar Willis getting 47 percent (19,993).
The race between Dickens, a relative unknown before his candidacy, and Willis had been one of the closest and certainly most hotly contested in the city. Dickens enlisted the help of former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin who took Willis to task after he was disbarred by the Georgia Supreme Court in October. Both candidates were also the subject of websites that alleged to detail personal and professional misgivings. Willis and Dickens’ campaigns each denied being affiliated with the negative websites.
On election night, though, Dickens was all smiles.
“We won,” he posted on his campaign Facebook page a little before 2 a.m. “Thanks Atlanta! Thank you so much. #andre4atlanta.”
Voting was reportedly slow but steady with 47,161 people voting for mayor and 43,098 voting for city council president. Of the 283 precincts open in Atlanta, only one precinct opened late, the Fulton County website reported. Precinct 06R, located at First Presbyterian Church, 1328 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, opened 28 minutes late and was allowed to remain open until 8:28 p.m.
Fulton County also reported that three polls experienced brief issues with the express poll machines going down. The machines were plugged in and voting continued as normal. None of those polls stayed open for any additional time.
(Photo: Mayor Reed addresses supporters on election night. Photo by Susan Ross)