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Democrats make gains in municipal elections across Georgia


Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens, shown here doing some election-day campaigning Nov. 30, is mayor-elect of Atlanta. He's one of several new winners in Georgia's municipal elections. Credit: Riley Bunch | GPB News

Local elections are typically nonpartisan and lower turnout, but that doesn't make them immune to Georgia's battleground status.

In the November general elections and runoffs, Democrats picked up 48 seats in mayoral and city council elections across the state while Republicans flipped six.

In McDonough and Warner Robins, voters elected the first Black mayors in those cities' history — and the first women, as well.

McDonough City Council member Sandra Vincent told GPB News she is hoping to retain the city's "small-town feel" while ensuring rapid growth in the surrounding area doesn't leave residents behind. LaRhonda Patrick defeated incumbent Warner Robins mayor Randy Toms in a runoff election as well.

Former Cairo mayor Booker Gainor defeated incumbent Howard Thrower III, Ann Tarpley is the new mayor of Hampton and Cosby Johnson is the new mayor of Brunswick.

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a statement that the results leave the party well-positioned to continue making gains in 2022. 

“From Middle Georgia to the coast and everywhere in between, Georgians came out in full force this election cycle to make their voices heard and demand change," she said. "Democrats’ strong showing in this year’s municipal elections is a testament to the unprecedented grassroots enthusiasm our party has been building across the state for years — and our momentum is only growing."

Beyond seats changing hands, runoff elections in metro Atlanta also signaled an end to many longtime incumbents' terms and a new direction for Atlanta's government.

South Fulton Councilman khalid kamau ousted incumbent mayor Bill Edwards in the city's mayoral race, while newcomers Jason Dozier and Antonio Lewis defeated Cleta Winslow and Joyce Shepherd, respectively, for Atlanta City Council seats.

With City Council member Andre Dickens handily winning Atlanta's mayoral runoff, Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore continued the streak of council presidents failing to move up into the city's highest office.

Copyright 2021 Georgia Public Broadcasting

Stephen Fowler is the Producer/Back-Up Host for All Things Considered and a creative storyteller hailing from McDonough, Georgia. He graduated from Emory University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. The program combined the best parts of journalism, marketing, digital media and music into a thesis on the rise of the internet rapper via the intersectionality of social media and hip-hop. He served as the first-ever Executive Digital Editor of The Emory Wheel, where he helped lead the paper into a modern digital era.