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Atlanta Holds on to Black Mayorship

NNPA, News Report, Sheronda K. Gipson Posted: Dec 21, 2009

ATLANTA (NNPA) - Kasim Reed is ready to take the reigns as mayor of Atlanta with an unsuccessful recount by opponent Mary Norwood. He is scheduled to take office January 4.

The December 1 mayoral runoff race between Reed and Norwood was particularly stiff. Ms. Norwood, who would have become the city's first White mayor in 36 years, lost to Mr. Reed by a little over 700 votes.

The swearing in of Atlanta's next mayor will take place in just under one month and it's crucial that our city's next mayor use all of that time to build an administration that is ready to govern on day one, Mr. Reed said in a statement. He vowed to move forward and focus my energies on building an administration that is going to address the serious challenges facing Atlanta.

The runoff election brought out nearly 11,000 more voters than the original election on Nov. 3.

Ceasar C. Mitchell won the Atlanta City Council president position, defeating Clair Muller with 54.82 percent of the vote, according to the Fulton County Election results. I am humbled and gratified by the overwhelming support the Atlanta electorate has demonstrated by electing me their next City Council president, Mr. Mitchell said. Though today marks the end of a long campaign, it also marks the beginning of a new eraan era that requires each and every one of us to make Atlanta better and stronger. I am excited and energized about providing the leadership and unification our city needs.

Ms. Norwood, a 57-year-old councilwoman, said she called Mr. Reed shortly after the Dec. 9 recount. She pledged to keep working to improve the city and urged her supporters to stay active.

Do not lose hope. Keep fighting for change, said Ms. Norwood, who was a neighborhood activist before joining the Atlanta City Council in 2001. I have never gone away and I am not going away now. Even though I will not be in elected office, I will be very involved.

The recount showed Mr. Reed won 714 more votes than Ms. Norwood, who picked up just one more vote in the recount. Because of the change, Fulton County elections officials said they would have to recertify the race.

Ms. Norwood ran a strong grassroots campaign but fell short of becoming the city's first White mayor since 1973. The 40-year-old Reed, who entered the race a few months ago as a virtual unknown, ended the contest strongly, passing Mr. Norwood in fundraising.

Both tried to gain a critical mass of racial crossover votes, with victory likely hinging on Black-versus-White turnout. Mr. Reed vowed Dec. 9 to continue to reach out to Ms. Norwood and her supporters as he prepares to take office.

Mr. Reed began assuming his new role even as the Dec. 1 runoff was being sorted out, announcing his chief operating officer this week and an interim police chief as the recount began. The city of Atlanta has to have stability, he said. These are decision that could not wait. We've got a lot to do. If we were to wait any longer, it would be Inauguration Day.

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