Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Won’t Seek Second Term

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The other challenger, Sharon Gay, a lawyer, has also said she would make fighting crime a top priority.

Ms. Bottoms, 51, had been expected to mount a formidable defense. She has a loyal ally in President Biden, whom she was early to endorse, and who repaid her loyalty with an appearance at a virtual fund-raiser in March. Ms. Bottoms was mentioned briefly as a potential vice-presidential running mate and said that she had later turned down a cabinet-level position in the Biden administration.

Ms. Bottoms, who served as a judge and a city councilwoman before narrowly winning election to the mayor’s office in 2017, is also blessed with a voice — measured, compassionate, slightly bruised and steeped in her experience as a Black daughter and a Black mother — that seemed uniquely calibrated to address the challenges of the past year.

It was in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that Ms. Bottoms went on live television and became a national star as she spoke directly to protesters. Some of their demonstrations had descended into lawlessness, with people smashing windows, spray-painting property and burning cars.

“When I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother would hurt,” she said. Then she scolded the protesters, insisting that they “go home” and study the precepts of nonviolence as practiced by the leaders of the civil rights movement.

Mr. Biden was one of several national figures to take notice. “We saw her stand tall and speak out during the summer of protests and pain,” the president said at the March fund-raiser.

But the challenges were numerous.

On June 12, shortly after Mr. Floyd’s death, a white Atlanta police officer fatally shot a Black man, Rayshard Brooks, in a fast-food restaurant’s parking lot. More protests and violence erupted, and the Bottoms administration fired the officer, Garrett Rolfe, a day after the shooting. (This week, the city’s Civil Service Board reinstated Officer Rolfe, who has been charged with murder, on the grounds that the administration had violated his due process rights.)


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