Dec 21, 2021 - News

Mayor Bottoms talks the past four years and what's next

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks at a lectern with two staffers seated next to her
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addresses reporters on Monday. Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

In her final public news conference on Monday before stepping down as Atlanta's 60th mayor next month, Keisha Lance Bottoms talked about her accomplishments, biggest challenges, and next steps.

Why it matters: Bottoms, who led the city through a cyberattack, protests over systemic racism and police killings, and the COVID pandemic, is the first mayor since Maynard Jackson in the early 1990s not to seek another term.

Accomplishments: Bottoms said her team was able to launch a guaranteed-income pilot program and child savings account push, make it halfway on her campaign trail promise of an eight-year $1 billion affordable housing trust fund goal, and expanded green space like the Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve.

  • Her team leaves Mayor-elect Andre Dickens' administration with $181 million in reserves — more than is required by the city charter, she said.

Her style: Criticized for her low-profile governing style during the airport takeover battle and the ongoing Buckhead cityhood movement, Bottoms argued that the media and others couldn't wrap their heads around a mayor who opted not to fuel the flames.

  • “If there's anything that I have ever done as a leader to give the impression that I don't value any part of this city, then I apologize,” she said. “Whether it's to the people in Buckhead or to the people on the west side. That has never been my intention as a leader.”

Left to do: Though her administration was able to check off goals set during the campaign, Bottoms said, Mayor-elect Andre Dickens and other city leaders will have to decide the future of the city jail and continue tackling deeper issues like income inequality and homelessness.

What's next: Bottoms will continue to serve as vice-chair of the DNC and an honorary fellow at a new institute based at Clark Atlanta University to train future leaders of HBCUs. Both roles are unpaid, she noted.

  • Bottoms said she'll remain engaged in politics and would campaign in 2022 for U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and, if she's the Democratic nominee for Georgia governor, Stacey Abrams.

“You never know what the future holds,” she said. “[Leaving office is] a period on my term as mayor, but a comma on the rest of my life.”

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