“An emotional Keisha Lance Bottoms said Friday that her "season" as Mayor of Atlanta will end with just one term without giving a reason.
ATLANTA — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told the City that it was time for her to leave office Friday morning as she fought back tears at a City Hall news conference.
"In the same way that it was very clear to me almost five years ago that I should run for mayor of Atlanta, it is abundantly clear to me today that it is time to pass the baton on to someone else," Bottoms said. "This has been my highest honor to serve as Mayor."
While she will remain in office through the end of her term Bottms indicated that this was a decision that was at least weeks in the making.
"Sever weeks ago I wrote two letters to Atlanta," she said. "One was a letter if I made the decision not to run for mayor again. And the other was a letter if I made the decision to stay in the mayor's race. And remarkably, they were essentially the same letters."
What emerged was Bottom's initial online announcement, released with an accompanying video Thursday evening around 10:30 on her social media, entitled "Dear Atlanta."
"As Derek and I have given thoughtful prayer and consideration to the season now before us, it is with deep emotions that I hold my head high, and choose not to see another term as Mayor," she wrote in the emotional letter.
Theming the letter on the Biblical verse of Ecclesiastes 3:1 — "For everything there is a season" — Bottoms couched the announcement of her decision in the recollection of what she accomplished in her "season" that she has determined to be ending.
"My faith teaches me that to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose," she said, opening her letter. "Nearly five years ago, I entered a season of seeking to become Mayor of Atlanta."
It was a surprise move that followed a campaign launch and fundraiser earlier this year that heavily featured President Joe Biden as a guest. Friday she spoke about her success raising campaign dollars and her prospects for winning, had she chosen to continue running.
"What I do know is that this is a decision made from a position of strength and not weakness," Bottoms said. "I've raised the money. I had the most successful fundraiser of any mayor in the history of this city, with President Joe Biden. I polled it. Nearly 70 percent of the people in this city still like me. If the race for mayor were held today, I would win this race without a runoff."
Still, Bottoms did not indicate what drove her decision to pull out of the mayor's race.
Her tenure has been marked by tumult and success. As she pointed out, she took over a City Hall rocked by scandal from the previous administration and carried the office through the worst of a global pandemic. And the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of police — or in Arbery's case, men acting on behalf of police — were punctuated at home when Rayshard Brooks was killed during a struggle with Atlanta Police officers in June.
The protests and unrest that followed, along with the toll of the COVID-19 on the City resulting and clashes with Gov. Brian Kemp and former President Donald Trump were noteworthy.
"There was last summer, there was a pandemic, there was a social justice movement," Bottoms said. "There was a mad man in the White House. And every turn and every opportunity, this city rose above. And I am so proud of that."
Bottoms called for Garrett Rolfe, the Atlanta policeman who fatally shot Brooks in the back, to be fired. This week, the city's civil service board reinstated him, even as he awaits trial for 11 criminal charges, including felony murder, related to the incident. The Mayor stood firm in her decision to terminate Rolfe.
In her letter, Bottoms talked about overcoming a cyberattack on the city's computer systems early in her term, a break with the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, raising the minimum wage for City employees to $15 an hour and giving pay hikes to police and firefighters. She also recalled her administration's efforts to bring affordable housing to working-class residents, work to deliver food and economic aid to many struggling through the pandemic and forging partnerships to tackle homelessness in the City.
What the future holds for Bottoms is unclear. She had been vetted by Biden's campaign for a role in his administration but eventually declined it. Would she eye a step toward public service on a federal level?
But Friday she squelched rumors about considerations to enter the private sector through her relationship with Walgreen's new CEO.
"Roz Brewer is my girl," Bottoms said. "I love her dearly, but she didn't get to be CEO of Walgreens by offering jobs to random friends. I am not going to Walgreens in Chicago. Derek is not going to Walgreens in Idaho. I can't get Derek to move two miles off of Cascade Road."
She gave no clear answers.
"While I am not yet certain of what the future holds, I trust that my next season will continue to be one full of passion and purpose, guided by the belief that within each of us is the power and responsibility to make a positive difference in the lives of others," Bottoms said.
Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore announced her candidacy in January, but no other individuals have officially come forward.“