After a contentious battle for mayor of Atlanta, M. Kasim Reed has nearly cemented his administration and energized civic and business leaders before becoming the city’s 59th chief executive this week.
A 40-year-old former Georgia state senator, Reed’s inauguration was set for Monday, Jan. 4, at Atlanta’s Civic Center. He ultimately won the election after Mary Norwood, the White at-Large city councilwoman who led the race for the majority of the year, sought a recount of votes upon discovery of Reed possessing less than one percent of the electorate.
With the vote recount six days following the runoff election, on Dec. 1, Reed, an Atlanta native who was unknown at the race’s entry, was victorious by 714 votes, with 42,839, against Norwood’s 41,124. Norwood conceded the race on Dec. 9.
Reed’s success sustains the string of African- American mayors of Atlanta since 1974. His no-nonsense and “non-cuddly” demeanor might prove worthy of the challenges the city faces.
Reed, a Howard University graduate, started facing the issues head on 24 hours after runoff election night.
Reed has shown concern to communities, including his attendance at a candlelight vigil for a 21-yearold liquor store clerk who was fatally shot during a robbery. Recent robberies and other crimes led to Reed immediately naming Deputy Chief George Turner as Atlanta Police Department’s interim chief. Richard Pennington retired as Atlanta’s police chief on Dec. 31.
“He will not have tolerance with aggressive panhandling, and [administering policies] will be done with compassion and humanity,” McCranie stated.
For public safety, the mayor-elect has named George Turner, an APD deputy chief, as interim police chief until a search committee identifies a permanent candidate. Another crucial issue will be to collect revenue effectively in order to enhance city services.
Re-opening recreation centers and increasing the police department with more officers are among the priorities.