In what she is calling a “very difficult decision,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has shared her decision to not seek reelection. Although Atlanta has seen an uptick in crime, the Spelman alumna’s move is puzzling for many who believed the well-known community figure would come back for more. Read about what she had to say about her decision in a piece from Wilborn P. Nobles III and J. D. Capelouto at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

(Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence)

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she had been thinking about not running for reelection as early as her first year in office, though she couldn’t point to a specific moment or reason that led her to bow out of the race.

In her first public appearance since announcing her decision to supporters Thursday night, Bottoms said her decision was guided by faith.

“In the same way that it was very clear to me almost five years ago that I should run for mayor of Atlanta, it is abundantly clear to me today that it is time to pass the baton on to someone else,” Bottoms said at an emotional news conference at City Hall.

She added that “the last three years have not been at all what I would have scripted for our city,” referencing a crippling cyber attack, a widening federal corruption investigation into the previous administration, the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest last year.

Bottoms said she doesn’t know what’s next for her; she denied rumors that she or her husband Derek have taken jobs for Walgreens out of state.

“I can’t get Derek to move two miles off Cascade Road,” she said.

(Dustin Chambers)

Bottoms, who was seen as a strong incumbent candidate despite a spike in violent crime, told friends and supporters Thursday evening she won’t seek a second term. She released a video and statement online a few hours later elaborating on her decision and reflecting on her time in office.

“This is not something I woke up and decided yesterday,” Bottoms said Friday. “This is something I’ve been thinking about for a very long time.”

The move is a shocking reversal for Bottoms, a mayor with a rising national profile who had launched her reelection campaign and held a fundraising event featuring President Joe Biden. The decision creates a wide-open mayor’s race this year, and is likely to open the door for a slew of new candidates.

Bottoms said she does not have a chosen successor, but may weigh in on the race later this year.

City Council President Felicia Moore and Dentons attorney Sharon Gay launched campaigns for mayor earlier this year, and Councilman Antonio Brown could also run.

Bottoms, who served on the City Council for eight years, was elected in 2017 in a razor-thin runoff against Mary Norwood.