By John Schaffner
At the end of the night Nov. 3, it was no surprise that Buckhead voters turned out among the strongest in City Council districts citywide to support their neighbor, Buckhead resident Mary Norwood, and send her into a runoff with former State Sen. Kasim Reed to become the next mayor.
Norwood received 46 percent of the vote and Reed 36 percent. Since no candidate drew more than 50 percent of the vote, the two will face each other in a Dec. 1 runoff.
It also was no surprise that the voters in City Council District 8, where 20-year council veteran Clair Muller had given up her seat to run for City Council president, handed Yolanda Adrean a 74 to 26 percent victory over her opponent Rick Coleman Jr. Adrean had campaigned long and hard for the City Council seat. Coleman did not.
Muller ending up in a runoff with fellow Council member Ceasar Mitchell in the race for City Council President was predictable and could have gone either way. It ended up with Mitchell at 49 percent and Muller at 42 percent.
The biggest surprise among the races pertinent to Buckhead voters was that Garden Hills resident and involved school mom Nancy Meister won the Atlanta School Board District 4 seat 52 to 48 percent over incumbent board member and Buckhead developer Mark Riley.
In the other major races on the ballot for Buckhead residents, District 7 City Council member Howard Shook was unopposed and received “votes of confidence,” Michael Julian Bond was elected to replace Mitchell as the City Council At-Large Post 1 member and At-Large Post 3 City Councilman H. Lamar Willis was re-elected to serve another four years. District 9 City Council member Felicia Moore, who represents a small part of Buckhead’s western border, also was unopposed for re-election.
By far the most-watched race—locally and nationally—was the mayor’s race, where Norwood was the only major white candidate running against Reed, City Council President Lisa Borders and attorney Jesse Spikes, the three major African-American candidates in the race.
True to the latest pre-election polls, Norwood won 46 percent (36,030) of the vote citywide among a total of six candidates, Kasim got 36 percent (28,459)—a major increase from the poll projections of 25 percent, and Borders garnered 14 percent (11,348), about where she was in the polls. Spikes only drew 2 percent (1,937).
Norwood drew 58 percent of her vote from three majority-white council districts, including the two Buckhead districts 8 and 9. Meanwhile, Reed won 57 percent of his vote from three predominantly black districts. Reed also won 14.5 percent of the vote cast in predominantly white council districts and Borders drew 12.3 percent.
Norwood won 23 percent of the votes cast in predominantly black council districts, besting Borders’ 15.5 percent there.
One factor in the mayor’s race was that voting was about 10 percent higher in the white council districts than in the black districts; but the overall citywide vote was low at about 30 percent of the registered voters.
Turnout in the runoff election could become key to who wins and that turnout could be determined by what other races the voters have to vote on in the council districts.
For instance, Norwood did best in council districts 6, 7 and 8 in the Nov. 3 voting. The only council races for voters to go to the polls for in districts 7 and 8 are the City Council President race between Mitchell and Muller and the At-Large Council Post 2, where Aaron Watson and Amir Farokhi are in a runoff for the seat Norwood has held for eight years.
However, Norwood also garnered substantial vote in District 6, where there is a runoff election between Alex Wan and Liz Coyle. District 6 has the largest number of registered voters in the city (27,643) and 85 percent of those registered voters are white.
Reed overwhelmingly bested Norwood in council districts 10, 11 and 12 where there are no district council seat runoffs and the only runoff races are for mayor, council president and At-Large Council Post 2. Those three districts total 60,000 registered voters and 35 percent turned out Nov. 3 in Districts 10 and 11, with 25 percent voting in District 12.
One thing for sure, however, is that both mayoral candidates hit the streets running on Nov. 4 and have kept running to encourage their voters to turn out and to increase their base of support.