Politics

For Some Atlanta Voters, Norwood And Bottoms Runoff Is A ‘Nightmare’

Some voters aren't excited about their options in Atlanta's mayoral runoff.
Some voters aren't excited about their options in Atlanta's mayoral runoff.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Atlanta City Council Members Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood earned enough votes in last week’s mayoral election to make it to the runoff.

But to be successful in that round, they’ll have to win over people who voted for other candidates. And some of those voters aren’t excited about their options. In fact, for many who backed candidates like Cathy Woolard and former State Sen. Vincent Fort, the election results represented their worst-case scenario.

“The two candidates in the runoff were our least favorite,” said Kirkwood resident Angel Bales-Carnley.

“I actually woke up and thought I was having a nightmare,” said Marshall Rancifer, an advocate for the homeless who lives in the same area.

“The results weren’t surprising, but they were definitely disappointing,” said Jonathan Banes of East Atlanta.

“I just screamed,” said activist Stacey Hopkins from Capitol View.

Banes, who supported Fort, explained his predicament. To him, Bottoms represented the political status quo, which he says hasn’t delivered.

“I feel that a lot of the issues with affordable housing, infrastructure have stemmed from this complacency,” he said.

But Banes isn’t sure Mary Norwood would be better. He associates her with the interests of the wealthy and business-friendly policies that he said have left lower income people behind.

Rancifer, who also backed Fort, expressed a similar dilemma. In the city council, he saw Bottoms push back against legislation to lower penalties for small amounts of marijuana possession. But Rancifer also was discouraged by Norwood’s reluctance at a recent debate to say racial profiling was an issue in Atlanta.

The question then is how these progressive voters will decide between the two candidates. Woolard and Fort collectively took a quarter of the vote.

Bales-Carnley, who went for Woolard, said the biggest issue for her is transportation. She’ll be looking for specific promises for expanding transit and alleviating traffic.

For Banes, specific policies around housing and transit also will be key. But he admitted he may have trouble finding the motivation to vote at all.

Hopkins, another Woolard supporter, said she’ll vote no matter what because she takes the right seriously. But she agreed she may have to hold up her nose while she does it.

“Once again we have these Sophie’s choice elections, where we have to pick the best of the worst,” Hopkins said.