Atlanta Finally Has New Mayor After Norwood Concedes Defeat

by | December 21, 2017

By Stephen Deere

Mary Norwood has conceded the Atlanta mayor's race to fellow City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Norwood's concession at roughly 10:30 p.m. Wednesday in a YouTube video came more than two weeks after the Dec. 5 runoff in which Bottoms narrowly defeated her.

In the video, Norwood says irregularities occurred during the election but she will not contest them.

"For the future of this city, I believe it is the right thing to do to move on and hold a new administration accountable," Norwood says.

But she says she owed it to her supporters to conduct a review of the election that was exhausting and painful.

A spokesperson for Bottoms' campaign said in a text message that he was not aware of any contact between Norwood and Bottoms prior to the video being posted.

Norwood lost to Bottoms by 821 votes in race in which nearly 90,000 people cast ballots.

The election mirrored Norwood's defeat to outgoing Mayor Kasim Reed in 2009, but it might have been a much tighter race were it not for ongoing problems with the U.S. Postal Service and the limited amount of time Fulton County had to print ballots.

The Board of Elections and Registration was delayed in mailing out absentee ballots until just after Thanksgiving because of another recount from November's general election involving a City Council race.

Some people have reported never receiving their absentee ballots, or not receiving them until well after the election.

Fulton County mailed more than 4,000 absentee ballots in both the general election and runoff. But in November, 57 percent of the ballots were returned compared to 34 percent in the runoff.

In the Atlanta mayor's race, 1,172 voted via mail in November's general election, a number that dropped by nearly 400 in this month's election.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Post Office in Atlanta did not immediately return a voice message seeking comment.

But the local postmaster was replaced this month after years of complaints about mail arriving late or going missing.

On election night, Norwood declared the contest "too close to call" and said she would seek a recount. Then she announced that her campaign had received multiple reports of irregularities and asked for witnesses to contact her.

Her supporters searched for evidence that might persuade a judge to toss out the results and order a new election.

Norwood's attorney said that the campaign had identified hundreds of votes that should not have been counted in the runoff.

Those votes came from Loch Lomond and the other unincorporated areas annexed last year. Norwood's attorney Vincent Russo argued that those areas don't belong within the city's borders because the annexations were inconsistent with state law.

But for a judge to order a new election, Norwood needed to prove that there were sufficient irregularities in the runoff to cast doubt on the outcome.

Loch Lomond has roughly 400 registered voters.

The Fulton County election board has yet to say how many of those voters cast ballots in the mayoral election.

(c)2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)