With Long Campaign Behind Her, Bottoms Sworn In As Atlanta’s New Mayor

Keisha Lance Bottoms addresses the crowd at Tuesday’s mayoral inauguration.

Ian Palmer / WABE

After emerging victorious from a crowded field and a bitterly contested runoff, Keisha Lance Bottoms was sworn in Tuesday as Atlanta’s mayor.

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Bottoms took her oath of office during an inauguration ceremony in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College. She promised in her inaugural speech to work on fighting homelessness, to improve transparency at City Hall and to create a senior-level staff position for education, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Bottoms reiterated many of her campaign promises in her speech Tuesday, which ran about 35 minutes, the Journal-Constitution reported. Those included supporting the arts, improving transit and working with state government to propel the city forward.

She announced an initiative to invest $1 billion in housing affordability, and said details would be offered in the coming months.

Her swearing in makes her Atlanta’s 60th mayor and the city’s sixth consecutive black mayor since Maynard Jackson was elected in 1973.

“Only in Atlanta could a girl named Keisha, who attended Frederick Douglass High School on the west side, grow up to become the 60th mayor of the great city of Atlanta,” she said.

Bottoms defeated Mary Norwood in a Dec. 5 runoff election to succeed Kasim Reed as Atlanta’s mayor.

The bitterly contested runoff campaign between the two city council members was marked by political grudges and allegations of corruption. Norwood requested a recount after initial certified vote totals showed her losing to Bottoms by 832 votes, a margin of less than 1 percent.

Speaking at the inauguration, former Atlanta mayor and civil rights leader Andrew Young noted that all mayors face challenges and have to weather bad times along with the good, the Journal-Constitution reported.

“It took me a while to see it,” Young said, remembering Bottoms learning to swim as a young girl. “We are putting the city in great hands.”

Other former Atlanta mayors attending the inauguration included Sam Massell and Bill Campbell, the Journal-Constitution reported. Democratic Congressman John Lewis, whose district includes part of Atlanta, was also there.

City council members, council President Felicia Moore and municipal court judges were also sworn in Tuesday, and the city council was expected to convene at 5 p.m. for its first organizational meeting of the new session.