Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore officially announced on Thursday that she would be taking on Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in the mayoral race this year, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and 11Alive.
In her announcement, she leaned heavily on the need for more to be done about the city's crime and called out the city government for corruption.
"Atlanta finds itself at a critical juncture. I have heard your voices, and the time has come for me to take the next step. That is why I am here today to officially announce my candidacy for the mayor for the city of Atlanta," Moore said.
"I am ready, willing, and able to chart the course with you, navigate the city's challenges with you, and manifest a vision for the city of Atlanta reflective of all segments of our population. While there may be some worthy opponents, this race is not against flesh and blood. This race is against the crime that is out of control in every neighborhood of our city."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Moore filed legal documents last week that indicated she would begin fundraising for the race.
Multiple candidates have been circling the position since Bottoms was floated as a potential vice presidential nominee last summer and as a choice for several cabinet positions within the new administration of President Joe Biden.
It has not been said which position in Biden's cabinet she was offered, but 11Alive reported it may have been for the role of leading the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which ultimately went to Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, as Blavity previously reported.
The New Yorker reporter Charles Bethea said on Twitter that Bottoms was offered the role of Ambassador to the Bahamas, which she allegedly turned down. She later denied that she was offered the position.
“Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was honored to have been offered a role in the cabinet, which she respectfully declined. The mayor’s focus remains on the people of Atlanta and the great state of Georgia. Out of respect for the process, and the other candidates under consideration, no additional comment will be forthcoming on this matter at this time,” a spokesperson for Bottoms told The Associated Press.
As 11Alive noted, if Bottoms had taken a position within the Biden administration, Moore would have taken over as mayor of the city until November.
But Bottoms' flirtation with national office has caused several candidates like Moore to kickstart efforts to challenge her for mayor of Atlanta, one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the country.
Bottoms announced that she would run for reelection last year and has already raised more than $100,000 for the campaign, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Nothing about politics surprises me anymore. It’s an election year. We know that people will be paying very close attention, no matter who the opponent is. I’m expecting that it’s going to be a very robust campaign year,” Bottoms said when asked about potential challengers for the mayoral seat on Wednesday.
Here are four things you should know about Moore as she prepares to run for mayor.
1. She sat on the city's council for two decades
Moore had been in the city council for 20 years representing District 9 before becoming council president in 2018, according to her website.
"Known for her fierce stance on transparency, Felicia is not afraid to speak her mind even if she draws the ire of those in power. She is a servant leader who is as comfortable in the presence of great political figures and celebrities as she is with everyday residents who are always eager to stop to greet her while out in the community," her biography reads.
"That tenacious spirit has garnered her praise and respect throughout the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia. Felicia is all about 'the people.' She has spent nearly three decades as a public servant, serving communities in need," it added.
Unfortunately, city council presidents often run for mayor but never win the position. The last five city council presidents have run for mayor and all have lost, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
She won the city council president race in 2017 with 55% of the citywide vote.
2. Her campaign is focusing on crime reduction
Much of Moore's opening speech hammered home the idea that she would address the city's crime problem. She said she would work to empower the city's police and in December released a memorandum that included several recommendations, according to a statement on her website.
“The year 2020 is coming to an end; however, efforts to address its outcomes are far from over. The city of Atlanta has witnessed crime at heights unseen in almost 22 years and we must reverse this dynamic immediately," she said in a statement.
"From the beginning of this term, I have promoted the concept of collaboration along with the free exchange of ideas and suggestions. While I wish the circumstances that brought us here were different, I am eager to collaboratively attack the issue of crime in our city – exceeding the vigor with which crime has attacked us."
Her recommendations included finding a permanent police chief, enforcing public safety as "a citywide right," and the resumption of operations of the municipal and county court systems.
"It is time to identify the leader who will carry the city’s primary law enforcement agency into the next era of world-class community-oriented policing. We must retain the exceptional talent housed within the Atlanta Police Department, supporting their performance, and incentivizing their commitment to keep all communities safe," Moore said.
"While it is understood that court operations will be modified to ensure employee/citizen safety during the pandemic, it is vital that we maintain synergies between the work of law enforcement and the court system as a deterrent to violent crime," her statement added.
She released the recommendation after outrage grew over a 7-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet.
In an interview with 11Alive last July, she sympathized with the Atlanta Police Department.
"I'm running to make every neighborhood safer. Every Atlanta resident should feel safe in their homes and communities, in their interactions with law enforcement and our police must be supported and empowered to do their jobs," she said on Thursday. "We must transform the culture of policing in Atlanta and address the social issues which truly are at the root of crime."
Erika Shields resigned as police chief of the Atlanta Police Department last summer after officers were seen on camera shooting
Rayshard Brooks to death. Rodney Bryant has been in place as interim police chief since then.
Crime figures dropped in 2020 but there was a 58% increase in homicides in 2020 compared to 2019, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"I'm just seeing that citizens are shaken by the numbers of violent incidents that are taking place," Moore said in December.
"Some communities have been suffering from criminal activity that they've complained about and felt that they weren't getting attention for. Buckhead has certainly been very loud and vocal—because it’s Buckhead—about the uptick in crime that is happening there, and has gotten a lot of media attention, which causes some resentment in other communities where they feel that they have been also wanting to have more police presence and more protection,” Moore added.
3. She's also calling for fiscal transparency
Moore criticized the current city government for corruption and said her platform included calls for "transparency, ethics and accountability."
As a city councilmember, she worked on pension reform in 2011 with "labor unions, pension boards and employee groups together to agree on increasing their contributions to both save their deﬁned beneﬁts and avoid expensive legal action against the city," according to her biography.
She also helped address the city's food desert problem, working to open a Publix Supermarket in Northwest Atlanta "where there hadn’t been a grocery store in decades," she said on her website.
She has received awards from the Golden Dome Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association.
4. She's received criticism from T.I. and other music artists
Rapper and influential Atlantan T.I. has come out forcefully against Moore, sharing an article on his Instagram page that highlighted a past effort by the city council president in 2017 to restrict how close recording studios could be built to residential neighborhoods. The city council rejected the proposal after Moore was the only one to vote for it.
"Excuse me Mrs @feliciamooreatl but…Our Culture Runs This Town Ma'am‼️ These studios (& the creatives that work in em) have laid foundation & paved ways to create opportunities for this city like nothing else could. Yeah we might get loud, no we not perfect, but we've contributed to this city's culture & economic growth, consistently…for decades!!!," T.I. wrote on Tuesday.
"Our contributions to the communities here in this city have gone overlooked far too long. We've been on the front line making a difference in this city (in ways nobody else in politics would) even before Hollywood found us attractive. Put some respect on that please & thanks," the rapper added before ending the post with the hashtag "Bye Felicia."
Producer Isaac Hayes III, the son of the late soul singer Isaac Hayes, also criticized the effort in a Tuesday Instagram post, slamming Moore for the effort to shut down music studios.
"THIS is who’s trying to run for Mayor of #Atlanta? This person. A 30 year urban music industry capital that’s generated billions of revenue for thousands of people and she tried to kill the economy and culture cause of 'Noise Complaints,'” he wrote.
"At least 7 major recording studios would of had to close of this passed and she was the ONLY council member to vote for it. But go ahead a run. You’d be the worst thing to happen the black music in ATL ever if you became Mayor," he added.