Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms are heading for a run-off on 2 December if the polls hold out going in to today’s elections. Ms Norwood held the lead in the polls well into the late summer and early fall, but fortune has changed in favor of Ms Bottoms who has amassed a two percentage point lead over the woman who could potentially be Atlanta’s first white mayor since 1974.
Ms Bottoms’ change in fortune may be due in part to a surge in campaign donations. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Ms Bottoms led all candidates in fund raising in October.
How much the “Vote the Black Slate” movement has contributed to Ms Bottoms’ surge is debatable. The desire on the part of Atlanta blacks, especially those living in the southwest sector of the city, is real to the point of palpable. While Ms Norwood’s amicable personality is pleasing to a lot of blacks (Full disclosure. I voted for her in 2009 partly for that reason), increase in support for Ms Bottoms is visible. Campaign signs supporting Ms Bottoms have sprouted up in many southwest Atlanta yards like grass after a solid rain.
If Ms Bottoms does come out the victor and continues current mayor Kasim Reed’s economic policies, her voters may find themselves experiencing further disappointment. I have lived in the southwest sector of Atlanta for over nine years. The wielding of political power via the vote has not brought poor blacks in the sector any more real capital or employment opportunities. Gentrification has brought young white couples into the neighborhood, but their capital may be spent elsewhere in the city as they head out to work in the morning and return in the evening. Their capital sees no value in the southwest.
The “Vote the Black Slate” movement may help boost the self esteem of Atlanta’s black elite. Another black mayor gives them something to talk about during homecoming games and cocktail parties. What it does for blacks with no capital is another issue.