Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: The WABE Interview
The Backstory: Mayor Bottoms Discusses Leading Georgia’s Capital City, Why She’s Not Seeking Reelection
While reflecting on her recent decision not to run for reelection, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says every mayor has a finite amount of time to hold that position — whether it be four years or eight years — and when you know, you just know.
“I still didn’t feel in my heart that I should run again.”
“I just knew. I wish I could articulate it,” said Bottoms during her first lengthy interview since announcing in early May that she wouldn’t seek a second term.
Atlanta’s 6oth mayor and the second Black woman to lead the city of Atlanta, Bottoms recently spoke with “Closer Look” host Rose Scott for an exclusive conversation to discuss the backstory of her decision as well as her first term.
The two-part conversation took place at the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve in southwest Atlanta and outside of Bottoms’ grandparents’ home.
During the first half of the filmed and recorded conversation, Bottoms told Scott that she first thought about not seeking a second term during her first year as mayor.
Bottoms also talked about transitioning from winning a runoff election in December 2017 to revamping her team after her first 100 days in office, passing her first piece of legislation to eliminate cash bail bonds, ending Atlanta’s relationship with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and launching initiatives to create affordable housing.
“When you are leading government, Atlanta, everybody’s watching Atlanta, not just in the state of Georgia,” she said. “Globally, people are paying attention to us. Every move that you make and every decision that you make is for public consumption.”
Bottoms says, throughout this term, many questioned her capabilities and policy ideas while alluding she was behind the initiatives.
When Scott asked Bottoms about her ongoing struggles with the Atlanta City Council, Bottoms didn’t downplay the situation about the City Council not agreeing with her publicly. She said she wished council members would have come to her directly so that she could have addressed their concerns.
“There are factions that will buck what they perceived to be an establishment just for the sake of pushing back,” said Bottoms.
However, Bottoms admitted there was a leadership lesson she learned by not including the City Council on major decisions such as the downtown Gulch development deal.
Bottoms — who has led the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a social justice movement and as the city is experiencing a huge spike in violent crime — says she and the Atlanta Police Department are doing everything they can to address the issues at hand.
“Statistically, my son is more likely to be the victim of gun violence than me and any number of other people. So, whether I am mayor, I will always care about safety in this city, and if I could stop it, I would,” Bottoms said.
During the second half of the conversation, Bottoms, a mother of four, reflected on the many lessons she’s learned from her grandmother.
She also talked about things she wasn’t able to accomplish during her first term and the relief she now feels knowing that she’s leaving her post.
“Relief I have done the best that I could do and relief that I am walking out with my head held high and that I am leaving out on my own terms. Everybody doesn’t get to do that, and I am thankful for that.”