City Council member Andre Dickens was elected mayor of Atlanta on Tuesday, defeating Council President Felicia A. Moore in a runoff election, the Washington Post reports.

Dickens will succeed Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who announced in May she would not seek a second term.

Because no candidate received over 50% of the vote in the November 2nd election, a special runoff was held. Moore, a Democrat, won 41 percent of the vote and Dickens stunned the political pundits by besting former mayor Kasim Reed (D).

In a speech to his passionate supporters, Dickens said that he’s been overlooked throughout his political career but he “scrapped and scraped and fought” to share his message with potential voters.

“The believers did it again, and they believed that this city needed a unifier,” Dickens said. “Someone who could bring this whole city together, and tonight, tonight, I’m beyond humbled that you have chosen me and elected me to be the 61st mayor of this great city.”

Dickens pledged that he would take on the city of Atlanta’s “generational problems” including violent crime, income inequality, and homelessness.

“I’ve said before, my real opponents in this race were never one of those 13” other candidates,” he added. “My opponent is homelessness, hopelessness, joblessness, racism, poverty, violence. My opponent has been around for 50, 100, 2,000 years. . . . My opponent requires all of us, and that is what we are fighting against.”

Bottoms endorsed Dickens, calling him a “charismatic and unifying leader” who could help the city rebound from the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Also, he received an endorsement from Fani T. Willis, Fulton County District Attorney. 

One of the major points of contention during the campaign was the funding of Atlanta’s police department. Moore recalled that Dickens was the only one of seven council members who voted in 2020 to temporarily decrease police funding to move resources to social service programs.

Dickens argued that his vote was an attempt to stop Atlanta police from having to respond to “non-emergency” calls, including mental health crises which he believes should be handled by trained professionals. In response, he criticized Moore for not taking allegations of police misconduct more seriously.

In addition to serving on the city council, Dickens, a chemical engineer, currently works as the chief development officer at a local nonprofit agency.

While the challenges of Atlanta may be daunting, Dickens is looking forward to rising to the occasion.

"We are facing some generational problems in our city,” he said. “Atlanta is growing in population and in wealth. Businesses are flocking to the city; yet, we still have people living on our streets. We have people working at our airport just to meet last month’s rent. People are still fighting to stay in their homes in the city that they love.”