Keisha Lance Bottoms needed a strong turnout in Southwest Atlanta to bet Mary Norwood. Depicted are early voters, mostly “Baby Boomers” at the Adamsville Recreation Center voting on November 27, 2017.
Photo Credits: (c) 2017 Harold Michael Harvey
The leaders of Atlanta threw everything in the kitchen at Keisha Lance Bottoms, including the kitchen sink, the dishwasher and the butcher’s knife. In the end Lance Bottoms survived to defeat her rival Mary Norwood by 759 votes.
Lance Bottoms received 46,464 votes to Norwood’s 45,705. Both received 50 percent of the votes cast, which by law makes Norwood eligible to request a recount. She is expect to do so as she did in her 2009 race against Mayor Kasim Reed.
Eight years ago Norwood, a self-described community activist fell about 714 votes short of defeating Kasim Reed, who threw his support behind Lance Bottoms. Reed and Lance Bottoms have been friends since their childhood days growing up in Southwest Atlanta.
It was the southwest Atlanta community, affectionately known as “The SWAT” that pulled Lance Bottoms over the top. The SWAT was opened up to Black Atlantans in the early 1960s.
Prior to that time, under a string of white mayors, it was the home to white Atlantans who once erected a barricade to ostensibly keep Blacks who lived in the Hunter Hills Community from migrating further south.
Lance Bottoms’ father, Major Lance, an R&B singer in the 1960s and ’70s was one of the first upwardly mobile Blacks to buy a home in the area, so too was Kasim Reed’s father, Junius Reed, a civil rights activist. Many of Lance Bottoms’ critics pointed to her friendship with Reed as the reason they were supporting Norwood.
Norwood ran on a theme of unifying the city, as if electing a Black female attorney would cause disunity. She built up a strong coalition of Black politicians including former Atlanta mayor, Shirley Franklin and Sam Marsell. She received essentially, pulpit endorsements from Charles A. Sutton and Jasper Williams, Sr., two of Atlanta’s most prominent megachurch pastors.
Atlanta City Council President, Ceasar Mitchell endorsed Norwood, then challenged Mayor Reed to meet him on the playground of their old elementary school on the Saturday morning after the election. Presumably, to find out which of the two Black politicos was the best physical fighter.
Reed labeled Mitchell and Norwood as “Two losers” during the campaign. He has not said if he will be meet Mitchell for fisticuffs on Saturday. We will be there to see if either of them show up.
Meanwhile, every political street fighter in Atlanta lined up to hurl barbs at Lance Bottoms, including Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta, community organizer Stacey Hopkins and activist attorney Gerald Griggs.
Squeezing Lance Bottoms in the middle were political pundits like conservative talk show host Robert Patillo and emmy awarding winning journalist Maynard Eaton, who opined that perhaps the city of Atlanta was rip to elect a white female mayor.
Over the weekend, Lance Bottoms, shunned and ostracized by local Black leaders brought in the heavy artillery. California Senator Kamala Harris and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker made campaign appearances on her behalf.
Lance Bottoms’ election comes after the city has seen unprecedented financial growth under Reed, as Amazon is considering locating their corporate headquarters here and amidst growing community pushback from a wave of gentrification sweeping into the SWAT.
Hopefully, Lance Bottoms has the temperament to pick up the kitchen furniture tossed at her and arrange it in such a way that “the city too busy to hate” will use some of her surplus to take care of those less fortunate living under her bridges and in her public parks.
In addition to finding ways to stem the loss of affordable housing for moderate income Atlantans living in the southwest corridor of the city as gentrification moves beyond where the barricade was erected to keep Blacks out of the area in the past.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org