The Atlanta City Council runoff election—explained in 10 minutes

What to know about the candidates running in the upcoming runoff election, and who will be on the council for certain next year

Atlanta City Hall

Photograph by Tashka / iStock/ Getty Images Plus

With no more than seven incumbents returning, the Atlanta City Council will look much different in 2022. The extent of that change is still to be determined, however, as two council members, with more than 30 years combined experience, face stiff challenges in the November 30 runoff. If they lose, Atlanta’s legislative arm will feature more newcomers than returning members—a dramatic makeover for a city that has long favored staying the course. Here’s a look at the races yet to be decided, as well as who won their elections outright earlier this month.

City Council races included in the November 30 runoff election:

Council President (city-wide)
Candidates: Natalyn Archibong, Doug Shipman
At stake: The crowded race to lead the council was an expensive and testy clash. The two candidates left standing are a veteran councilwoman and a political newcomer with powerful connections. Archibong, who has represented an east side district since 2002, and Shipman, the founding CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, have staged a familiar political dance. Archibong touts her experience; Shipman calls her an out-of-step career politician, citing some of her past votes against pro-BeltLine ordinances. Shipman, former president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center, campaigns as an outsider with a fresh approach; Archibong counters that, with so many seats changing hands on the council, now is not the time to hand over the reins to a political novice. She has also accused Shipman of implying he has the endorsement of deceased civil rights leaders. Shipman had a 3 percent advantage over Archibong in the general election earlier this month.

Post 3 At-Large (city-wide)
Candidates: Jacki Labat, Keisha Sean Waites
At stake: The race to succeed mayoral hopeful Andre Dickens features a clash between a veteran politician and and a well-connected political newcomer. (Sensing a theme here?) Labat, who is married to Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat, has served as an executive assistant and chief of staff to several of Atlanta’s top business and civic leaders, including Coretta Scott King. Waites represented a district that includes College Park in the state legislature from 2012-19. She held a 5 percent advantage over Labat in the general election.

District 1 (includes Grant Park, Ormewood Park, Benteen Heights, and much of Southeast Atlanta)
Candidates: Nathan Clubb, Jason Winston
At stake: Only 135 votes separated Clubb and Winston in the general election. They are vying to succeed longtime councilwoman Carla Smith, who in her 20 years holding the seat saw the district transform from—in her words: “the other side of the tracks”—to one of the city’s most desirable addresses. Clubb, who calls himself a “policy wonk,” spent over a decade working for the federal and state government. Winston’s background is more in the private sector. He owns a marketing consultant business and is an instructor at his alma mater, Georgia State University.

District 3 (includes Vine City, Home Park, Atlantic Station, Bankhead, and a strip of West Atlanta)
Candidates: Byron Amos, Erika Estrada
At stake: It’ll be difficult for either of the candidates to match the headlines generated by current seat holder Antonio Brown, who lost his bid for mayor. Two years ago, in a special election to replace the late Ivory Lee Young, Brown narrowly defeated Amos, a former Atlanta Public School Board member who has racked up a slew of endorsements from the city’s political establishment. Estrada, a court-appointed special advocate in Fulton County, is a relative political unknown with a lengthy resume as a volunteer and businesswoman. A key issue in the race centers on the lack of development in hardscrabble neighborhoods like Vine City, which borders Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

District 4 (includes the West End, Atlanta University Center, Venetian Hills, and a slice of west downtown)
Candidates: Jason Dozier, Cleta Winslow
At stake: It’s a rematch between Winslow, the 27-year incumbent, and Dozier, the 38-year-old Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran. The contest was a nailbiter four years ago and may be even tighter this go around, with less than 100 votes separating the two candidates in the general. Winslow recently told the AJC she was “running with gasoline drawers like my [butt] is on fire” to “take care of the people’s business.” Dozier has cited repeated ethics violations by the incumbent, who he claims has ignored bread-and-butter issues important to the district. Winslow says her record, and seven election victories, speaks for itself.

District 5 (Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown, Edgewood, East Lake, and East Atlanta)
Candidates: Liliana Bakhtiari, Amanda “Mandy” Mahoney
At stake: Bakhtiari, an openly queer Muslim Millennial and human rights activist, almost won this seat four years ago. This time she fell just short of avoiding a runoff, outpacing Mahoney, who served as Atlanta’s first Director of Sustainability under former Mayor Shirley Franklin, by 32 percent in the primary. Affordable housing has emerged as a key issue in this heavily gentrified enclave.

District 12 (includes Sylvan Hills, Capitol View, Adair Park, and Atlanta’s southeast corner)
Candidates: Antonio Lewis, Joyce Sheperd
At stake: This shapes up as perhaps the most intriguing of the runoffs, with the issue of crime holding particular resonance. District 12 is where, in the summer of 2020, 8-year-old Secoriea Turner was shot to death by alleged gang members who had seized control of a major intersection following the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks. Sheperd, seeking a sixth term in office, is being challenged by Lewis, a community activist who finished less than 100 votes behind her in the primary. But Sheperd may actually be the underdog this go-around; Lewis and another progressive opponent, Jenne Shepherd, dismissed as “radicals” by the incumbent, combined to win 58 percent of the general election vote. (Sheperd alone earned the other 42 percent of the vote.) Lewis, 34, has framed the race as “Blue Lives Matter vs. Black Lives Matter,” citing Sheperd’s role as the primary sponsor of the city’s bid to build a controversial new public safety training facility in DeKalb County, a decision that Sheperd defended as an urgent need.

City Council seats already decided by the November 2 election:

Post 1 At-Large (city-wide)
Winner: Incumbent Michael Julian Bond survived an array of attacks from progressive activists, winning more votes than his four opponents combined.

Post 2 At-Large (city-wide)
Winner: Incumbent Matt Westmoreland, an APS Boardmember and son of a former Fulton County Superior Court judge, used a a big fundraising advantage to defeat former Atlanta police officer-turned-federal agent Sonya Russell-Ofchus.

District 2 (Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Candler Park, and a chunk of eastern downtown)
Winner: Incumbent Amir Farokhi, who ran unopposed.

District 6 (includes Virginia-Highland, Morningside, Ansley Park, and Druid Hills)
Winner: Alex Wan, who easily reclaimed the seat he gave up four years ago in an ill-fated run for council president.

District 7 (includes eastern Buckhead, Garden Hills, and Atlanta’s northeast c orner)
Winner: Incumbent Howard Shook, who ran unopposed.

District 8 (includes Chastain Park, Tuxedo Park, Paces, western Buckhead and Atlanta’s northwest corner)
Candidate: Former mayoral candidate and City Councilmember Mary Norwood, who ran unopposed.

District 9 (includes Riverside, Bolton, Carver Hills, and much of the Westside)
Winner: Dustin Hillis, the incumbent, coasted to re-election on a pro-law enforcement platform.

District 10 (includes Westview, Audobon Forest, Bakers Ferry, and a swath of West Atlanta)
Winner: Andrea L. Boone, former chief of staff to longtime Councilman C.T. Martin and a top aide to ex-Mayor Kasim Reed, defied the anti-incumbent tide, winning a second term with 86 percent of the primary vote.

District 11 (includes far Southwest Atlanta between Cascade and Campbellton roads)
Winner: Marci Collier Overstreet, a retired flight attendant and women’s rights advocate, outlasted seven other candidates for the seat four years ago. This time she had only one opponent, Ron Shakir, whom she defeated by 54 percent.