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Wednesday November 22nd, 2017 5:05PM

Voters choosing new Atlanta mayor, open legislative seats

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Voters in Georgia had no shortage of choices on Tuesday's ballot as they considered who should be Atlanta's next mayor and how to fill vacancies in the Georgia Legislature.

Nearly a dozen candidates competed to succeed term-limited Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Also on ballots were 34 candidates for nine seats in the state House and Senate that came open after incumbent lawmakers around the state decided not to finish the final year of their terms.

For any race in which no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will return for a runoff election Dec. 5.

Here's a look at the races.

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ATLANTA MAYOR

Like the city's notorious commute, the race to become Atlanta's next mayor has drawn a traffic jam of candidates seeking one of the highest profile local offices in Southern politics.

Two-term Mayor Kasim Reed will leave his successor with a thicket of challenges facing Georgia's capital city. Among them are traffic-clogged highways showing no sign of easing and a lack of affordable housing in a city where rents and home prices have soared. The new mayor also inherits Atlanta's aggressive effort to lure Amazon's coveted second headquarters, with a decision expected next year.

There's a decent chance Atlanta's new mayor will be a woman. Two city councilwomen — Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms — are running, along with former council president Cathy Woolard. Reed has endorsed Bottoms. It wouldn't be the first time Atlanta voters chose a female mayor: Shirley Franklin served two terms after winning the office in 2001.

The election could also mark the first time Atlanta elects a white mayor in more than four decades. Jerry Perciphield, a 69-year-old white architect, said he hopes that doesn't happen.

"I think the minorities are the ones who are really struggling in the city and need a voice," he said. "As a good Democrat, I'm looking for social justice, and I think you get that better when people are represented by leaders of their own race."

Voter James Lewis, 68, said schools and taxes are top issues for him. Though off-year municipal elections generally draw a low turnout, Lewis said voting is important to him.

"Every vote counts," he said.

Other City Hall veterans in the race are City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Councilman Kwanza Hall, and Peter Aman, Atlanta's former chief operating officer.

Also in the running are John Eaves, chairman of the Fulton County Commission, and longtime state Sen. Vincent Fort, whose campaign held a September fundraiser with former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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GEORGIA SENATE

Two metro Atlanta seats in the state Senate were up for grabs after their incumbents stepped down to seek higher office.

Five Republicans and three Democrats were competing for the 6th District seat of GOP Sen. Hunter Hill, who's running for governor. GOP contenders Charlie Fiveash, Kathy Eichenblatt, Leah Aldridge, Leo Smith and Matt Bentley are on the ballot in the district, which includes parts of Fulton and Cobb counties. So are Democrats Jaha Howard, Jen Jordan and Taos Wynn.

In the nearby 39th District, four Democrats and one Republican hoped to succeed Democratic Sen. Vincent Fort, who is running for mayor of Atlanta. The Senate race in Fulton County featured Democrats Elijah Tutt, Linda Pritchett, Marckeith DeJesus, and Nikema Williams. Nick Carlson was the GOP candidate.

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GEORGIA HOUSE

Seven members of the Georgia House resigned with one year remaining in their terms, and their vacant seats were on the ballot.

Whitfield County voters in northwest Georgia chose Republican Kasey Carpenter to replace Republican Rep. Bruce Broadrick of Dalton, who stepped down citing failing health. Carpenter beat two GOP candidates and a Democrat for the 4th District seat.

In Atlanta's northern suburbs, Forsyth County voters elected Republican Marc Morris to take the place of Republican Rep. Geoff Duncan of Cumming in the state House. Duncan stepped down from his 26th District seat in August to focus on his 2018 campaign for lieutenant governor.

In DeKalb County, Democrats Bee Nguyen, David Abbott, Monique Keane and Sachin Varghese were competing for the 89th District seat formerly held by Rep. Stacey Abrams, an Atlanta Democrat running for governor.

Republicans passed on competing in the 60th District after Democratic Rep. Keisha Waites of Atlanta stepped down to run for Fulton County chairman. Democrats De'Andre Pickett, Kim Schofield and Sparkle Adams were vying for that seat in Fulton and Clayton counties.

Voters in northeast Georgia's 117th District got a straight-up Republican vs. Democrat contest after GOP Rep. Regina Quick of Athens was appointed to a judgeship. Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, an attorney, defeated GOP consultant Houston Gaines for the seat.

Democrat Jonathan Wallace won election in northeast Georgia to an open seat in the 119th House District. The seat was vacated by Republican Rep. Chuck Williams of Watkinsville in August after Gov. Nathen Deal appointed him to head the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Democrats will retain control of a metro Atlanta seat in the state House that was vacated by a lawmaker who's running for governor. Smyrna consultant Teri Anulewicz was the only candidate on the ballot in the special election in Cobb County for the 42nd District House seat. She will succeed former Democratic Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna, who gave up her seat to devote more time to her 2018 campaign for governor.

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Associated Press Writers Kate Brumback in Atlanta and Russ Bynum in Savannah contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Online Supreme Court News, AP Elections, General House Election News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Elections - Campaigns
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