Ex-state Sen. Kasim Reed elected Atlanta mayor

AP News
Posted: Dec 09, 2009 3:46 PM

Former Georgia state Sen. Kasim Reed will be sworn in as Atlanta's next mayor after a Wednesday recount confirmed his slim margin of victory over opponent Mary Norwood.

His election to succeed Mayor Shirley Franklin extends a decades-long line of black mayors in the mostly black city.

It came after a hard-fought race that was extended beyond November's general election with a December runoff and the recount. More than 84,000 ballots were cast in the runoff _ more votes than in the general election.

Flanked by supporters, an upbeat Norwood conceded the race less than two hours after the recount results were announced.

"Here we are at the end of a very, very long two years," the 57-year-old city councilwoman said. "Losing is never easy, but given the closeness of this race, it was always a possibility."

Norwood said she called Reed shortly after the recount. She pledged to keep working to improve the city and urged her supporters to stay active.

"Do not lose hope. Keep fighting for change," said Norwood, who was a neighborhood activist before joining the Atlanta City Council in 2001. "I have never gone away and I am not going away now. Even though I will not be in elected office, I will be very involved."

The recount showed Reed won 714 more votes than Norwood, who picked up just more one vote in the recount. Because of the change, Fulton County elections officials said they would have to recertify the race on Thursday.

Norwood, who is white, ran a strong grassroots campaign but fell short of becoming the city's first white mayor since 1973. The 40-year-old Reed, who entered the race a few months ago as a virtual unknown, ended the contest strongly, passing Norwood in fundraising.

Both tried to gain a critical mass of racial crossover votes, with victory likely hinging on black-versus-white turnout. Reed vowed Wednesday to continue to reach out to Norwood and her supporters as he prepares to take office.

Reed began assuming his new role even as the Dec. 1 runoff was being sorted out, announcing his chief operating officer this week and an interim police chief as the recount began on Wednesday. He is scheduled to take office Jan. 4.

"The city of Atlanta has to have stability," he said. "These are decision that could not wait. We've got a lot to do. If we were to wait any longer, it would be Inauguration Day."