Georgia voters choosing new Atlanta mayor, open legislative seats

A voter casts a ballot next to a mural of a tennis player at a polling site in a school gymnasium in Atlanta, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Voters electing a new mayor for Atlanta and filling a handful of vacancies in the Georgia Legislature will find no shortage of choices on the ballot. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ATLANTA | Voters in Georgia had no shortage of choices on Tuesday’s ballot as they considered who should be Atlanta’s next mayor and how to fill vacancies in the Georgia Legislature.

 

Nearly a dozen candidates are competing to succeed term-limited Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Also on ballots are 34 candidates for nine seats in the state House and Senate that came open after incumbent lawmakers around the state decided not to finish the final year of their terms.

With so many contenders running, it’s a safe bet that some of these elections won’t be settled Tuesday. For any race in which no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will return for a runoff election Dec. 5.

Here’s a look at the races.

ATLANTA MAYOR

Like the city’s notorious commute, the race to become Atlanta’s next mayor has drawn a traffic jam of candidates seeking one of the highest profile local offices in Southern politics.

Two-term Mayor Kasim Reed will leave his successor with a thicket of challenges facing Georgia’s capital city. Among them are traffic-clogged highways showing no sign of easing and a lack of affordable housing in a city where rents and home prices have soared. The new mayor also inherits Atlanta’s aggressive effort to lure Amazon’s coveted second headquarters, with a decision expected next year.

There’s a decent chance Atlanta’s new mayor will be a woman. Two city councilwomen — Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms — are running, along with former council president Cathy Woolard. Reed has endorsed Bottoms. It wouldn’t be the first time Atlanta voters chose a female mayor: Shirley Franklin served two terms after winning the office in 2001.

Other City Hall veterans in the race are City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Councilman Kwanza Hall, and Peter Aman, Atlanta’s former chief operating officer.

Also in the running are John Eaves, chairman of the Fulton County Commission, and longtime state Sen. Vincent Fort, whose campaign held a September fundraiser with former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

GEORGIA SENATE

Two metro Atlanta seats in the state Senate are up for grabs after their incumbents stepped down to seek higher office.

These special elections are held without party primaries to narrow the fields, so multiple Republicans and Democrats are allowed to compete in each race.

Five Republicans and three Democrats are running for the 6th District seat of GOP Sen. Hunter Hill, who’s running for governor. GOP contenders Charlie Fiveash, Kathy Eichenblatt, Leah Aldridge, Leo Smith and Matt Bentley are on the ballot in the district, which includes parts of Fulton and Cobb counties. So are Democrats Jaha Howard, Jen Jordan and Taos Wynn.

In the nearby 39th District, four Democrats and one Republican hope to succeed Democratic Sen. Vincent Fort, who is running for mayor of Atlanta. The Senate race in Fulton County features Democrats Elijah Tutt, Linda Pritchett, Marckeith DeJesus, and Nikema Williams. Nick Carlson is the GOP candidate.

GEORGIA HOUSE

Seven members of the Georgia House resigned with one year remaining in their terms, and their vacant seats are on the ballot.

Whitfield County voters in northwest Georgia must replace Republican Rep. Bruce Broadrick of Dalton, who stepped down citing failing health. GOP candidates Beau Patton, Eddie Caldwell and Kasey Carpenter are vying for the 4th District seat. So is Democrat Peter Pociask.

The 26th District in Forsyth County north of Atlanta became open when GOP Rep. Geoff Duncan of Cumming resigned to run for lieutenant governor. Republicans Marc Morris and Tina Trent, and Democrat Steve Smith are running to replace him.

Only Democrats signed up for metro Atlanta races to replace two lawmakers running for governor — Democratic Reps. Stacey Abrams of Atlanta and Stacey Evans of Smyrna. In DeKalb County, Bee Nguyen, David Abbott, Monique Keane and Sachin Varghese are competing in Abrams’ 89th District. Just one candidate, Teri Anulewicz, is seeking Evans’ 42nd District seat in Cobb County.

Republicans also passed on competing in the 60th District after Democratic Rep. Keisha Waites of Atlanta stepped down to run for Fulton County chairman. Democrats De’Andre Pickett, Kim Schofield and Sparkle Adams are running in Fulton and Clayton counties.

Voters in northeast Georgia’s 117th District got a straight-up Republican vs. Democrat contest after GOP Rep. Regina Quick of Athens was appointed to a judgeship. Democratic attorney Deborah Gonzalez faces GOP consultant Houston Gaines in Clarke, Oconee, Barrow and Jackson counties.

In the 119th District in Clarke and Oconee Counties, GOP Rep. Chuck Williams of Watkinsville left office to become head of the Georgia Forestry Commission. Democrat Jonathan Wallace is running for the seat, as are Republicans Lawton Lord, Marcus Wiedower and Steven Strickland.

 

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