(Bloomberg) -- Andre Dickens, a two-term Atlanta City Council member, won a runoff race to become the 61st mayor of one of the largest cities in the southeastern U.S.

Dickens, 47, will replace fellow Democrat Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose decision not to seek a second term threw the race wide open earlier this year. When voters went to the polls in early November, some 14 names were on the ballot. 

No candidate earned more than 50% of the votes in that election, and so Council President Felicia Moore -- the top vote-getter at the time -- and Dickens, who came in second, faced off in Tuesday’s non-partisan runoff. Dickens beat Moore, 64% to 36%, according to the Associated Press.

Dickens, a native of working-class southwest Atlanta and a Georgia Tech-educated engineer, takes the helm as Atlanta booms with economic expansion and major investments from technology firms such as Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. At the same time, a post-pandemic rise in violent crime threatens to fracture the city, and a well-organized secession movement in its Buckhead district will be one of the first challenges that Dickens will face. 

Separation Opponent

Dickens and his mayoral contenders opposed any attempt to separate the wealthy Buckhead area from the city. Dickens has said he plans to address crime by increasing the ranks of the city’s police force, yet he also plans to improve the culture within the department.

Moore, 60, a 24-year veteran of the Council, had been a leading candidate in polls throughout much of the race. She was widely expected to run off against former Mayor Kasim Reed, who was seeking a third term in office after leaving four years earlier due to limits on consecutive terms. 

But in the days leading up to the Nov. 2 general election, an organized effort by Dickens supporters convinced voters that alleged misdeeds by Reed’s past administration made the former mayor unqualified for the job. Reed finished third.

Meanwhile, Dickens surged in popularity as he touted his hometown roots, his plans to address crime and affordable housing, and as he often repeated, to preserve “the soul of Atlanta.”  

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