Butter’s Quick Guide to the 2021 Atlanta Mayoral Election

Butter ATLNovember 1, 2021

Butter.ATL election guide 2021

We know how ATLiens love to do things last minute, so we put together this breakdown of all the quick info you need to know before you vote.

Listen, y’all. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, a gentrification-fueled housing crisis, constant civil unrest, and we haven’t gotten a new Outkast album in at least 15 years. We shouldn’t have to tell you just how important Atlanta’s upcoming 2021 Mayoral and City Council elections are. 

The Basics

Atlanta’s general election for mayor, city council, board of education members and municipal court judges is tomorrow

If you’re a City of Atlanta resident living in Fulton or DeKalb county, you’re eligible to cast a ballot as long as you registered by October 4th. 

Early voting ended last week, which means Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 2 is the last day to vote. 

If no single candidate secures 50-percent-plus-one of the vote, a runoff election will be on Tuesday, November 30. 

The Georgia My Voter page has all the key information and resources you need, like finding your polling location or identification requirements.

Who Are The Top Candidates?

Over a dozen candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to become Mayor, but polls and media attention have identified five top candidates: 

Reed’s candidacy comes amid some controversy, namely federal indictments for wire fraud and misuse of campaign funds, and his heavy “tough on crime” campaign focus may ring tone deaf among younger voters, given the influence last summer’s “Defund the Police” movement has had on local politics

Despite this, AJC polls showed Reed fighting for the top spot against Moore, who previously co-authored legislation aimed to support government transparency. The two of them have been in their own mudslinging battle, too.

Brown may be seen as one of the more progressive candidates, having passed a resolution which expanded the ‘duty to intervene’ resolution among the Atlanta police and a campaign focusing on eradicating historic inequality in the city, but he’s facing his own federal fraud case as well. 

Dickens was born and raised in Adamsville, with a comprehensive plan to target poverty and foster transparency that’s been endorsed by former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. 

Gay, the lawyer of the group seeking to transition into politics, is focused on promising community development between public and private sectors. 

What’s At Stake Here?

The stakes are high right now because we done had a hell of a year. Any candidate taking office will have to contend with a number of ongoing issues: the Covid-19 pandemic, mask mandates and vaccine drama (yes, I’m talking about your uncle). 

There’s also ongoing public dialog and outrage around policing, Atlanta’s new “cop city”, a jail which was supposed to be closed down already, and an internal police morale crisis.

Not to mention record economic expansion thanks to population growth, the entertainment and tech industries, the largest income inequality gap in the country, a housing market where finding affordable housing is the hardest shit since MC Ren, and Buckhead thinking it don’t want to be part of Atlanta no ‘mo. Oh yeah, and apparently an official bid for the World Cup 2026 is in the cards, too.

Hell, there’s so much going on in the city, they’re considering getting a “Night Mayor” to look after y’all’s drag racing asses.

How Do Atlanta Residents Feel?

As mentioned, polling shows Felicia Moore and Kasim Reed neck-and-neck for the top two spots, while the others trail somewhat far behind. What’s most interesting about the data is that over 40% of polled voters are still undecided – that’s a huge chunk. 

Earlier polls showed the most important issue to voters was crime at 44%, followed by affordable housing at 17%, Covid-19 at 14%, income inequality at 7%, and corruption at 4%. 

I, personally, will support whichever candidate promises to fix the potholes and ban influencers from the Jackson St. Bridge. (Just joking… mostly)

Where Can I Learn More?

A lot of the focus has been on mayoral candidates, but the City Council races are just as important — they set policies and help dictate how the city’s money is spent. Head over to #voteATL’s super comprehensive rundown to find your district candidates, and learn everything they do with their helpful fact sheet.  

Plus all 9 Atlanta Board of Education seats are up for grabs too, and with all the “Critical Race Theory” controversy, you should be paying attention to these seats. Atlanta Magazine has a nice overview with all the details you need to know.

We teamed up with the Old Fourth Ward Business Association and Atlanta Civic Circle to moderate a series of candidate forums, with both mayoral and city council hopefuls, so that’s a good place to start. 

You can also check out the Committee For A Better Atlanta’s full voter guide, keep up with WABE’s local coverage, and sign up for our weekly emails to get more content directly to your inbox.