With everything that’s been going on in the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia, the last thing anyone would expect or want to hear is that Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms would not be running for reelection this year.
Her announcement, which came in the form of a letter published online, was considerate and shocking at the same time. “As [my husband] Derek and I have given thoughtful prayer and consideration to the season now before us, it is with deep emotions that I hold my head high, and choose not to seek another term as Mayor,” she shared. “While I am not yet certain of what the future holds, I trust that my next season will continue to be one full of passion and purpose, guided by the belief that within each of us is the power and responsibility to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
Bottoms’ decision not to seek a second term marks a sharp turnabout for the city’s second Black woman executive who months ago was among those President Joe Biden considered for his running mate, and then for a Cabinet position.
Basing her decision not based on an inability to fundraise, a belief that she would not win the people’s vote again, or fear of competition in her bid for a second term as 60th mayor of Atlanta. “I have engaged in several elections, facing multiple candidates, and never once have I cowarded from the competition,” Bottoms included in the announcement letter.
While in office, Mayor Bottoms repeatedly used her platform to weigh in on a slew of high-profile issues through the lens of their impact on Atlanta, from voting rights to pandemic guidelines. Facing a high-stakes test of her leadership at home, Bottoms denounced vandalism in her city as chaos after demonstrations over the death of George Floyd turned violent and destructive. “What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” an impassioned Bottoms said at a news conference at the time. “This is chaos.”
As insinuated earlier, the Georgia legislature has moved to pass restrictive voting laws, which would impose new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empower state officials to take over local elections boards, and limit the use of ballot drop boxes. Bottoms urged those looking to boycott Georgia-based companies over the state’s new elections law to instead vote and back federal voting legislation. She also slammed the Georgia law that would make it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.
Bottoms also weighed in about how race played a major factor in the motive of the suspected shooter, Robert Aaron Long, who allegedly killed eight people, including six Asian women, in Atlanta-area spas earlier this week. “We can’t ignore the fact that there were Asian women who were—seem to have been targeted in these Asian massage parlors,” Bottoms said to CNN’s David Axelrod on an episode of The Axe Files podcast.