*In early May, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced at a news conference that she would not seek a second term. Her announcement was a surprise to many.
“This has been my highest honor to serve as mayor of this city,” she said. “It is abundantly clear to me that it is time to pass the baton on to someone else.”
While Bottoms said there wasn’t a single reason for her decision, she did say her decision was “made from a position of strength.” The Mayor, however, named several crises she has faced since sworn in as Atlanta’s highest elected official in 2018. Yet, of all the reasons why she would not seek a second term, many close to the mayor point to something that is being labeled the “Covid Crime Wave.”
Like many other cities across America, Atlanta is struggling with a spike in violent crime during the 14-month pandemic. Atlanta saw a 58 percent increase in homicides in 2020, which many city stakeholders attribute to the pandemic’s impact on at-risk Black and Brown communities. There is much speculation that the mayor’s inability to handle the crime spike had become the central theme for two potential mayoral challengers.
“Atlanta has a mayor that is more interested in things that happen outside Atlanta,” City Council president Felicia Moore said in a recent statement, according to a story in the New York Times. “We need a mayor who knows the No. 1 job of any mayor is to keep our city safe.”
The New York Times’ story also reports that some people who have worked with Bottoms say that she didn’t seem fully engaged in her day-to-day chore of governance.
Whether true or not, Atlanta stakeholders and voters know that anything less than full engagement for the safety and welfare of the city’s citizens and businesses is unacceptable. Bottoms said she is focused on keeping the city safe in the remaining months of her term.
“I’m doing that not because I’m a mayor, but because I’m a mother in this city,” she said. “I want this city to be safe for my family, in the same way that I want it to be safe for everybody else.”