Qualifying is now over for Atlanta's November election. And one thing is already certain: there will be a lot of new faces at Atlanta City Hall.
That's because, it's not just the Mayor's seat that's up for grabs. The Atlanta City Council president post is open too, and so are seven out of the 15 other positions on City Council.
“I don't recall this many seats turning over in a long, long time,” said Harvey Newman, professor emeritus in Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.
Atlanta is a little unique in that the city's mayor is term-limited, Newman said. Other cities, like Chicago and New York, don’t change out mayors so often.
And, in Atlanta, it’s the opening of the mayor’s seat that triggered this big leadership shift.
“The city council president wanted to move up one chair, and so that created a vacancy there. And then that has had a ripple effect on down the ballot,” Newman said.
But, Newman said, while it's certain that a bunch of new people will take office, it's not like City Hall is going to fall apart come November.
After all, many of the candidates for mayor and City Council president are from the City Council.
“I think we're likely to have very experienced people in charge of city government,” Newman said. “So I'm not particularly worried about any lack of direction.”
Emory University political science professor Michael Leo Owens said that direction will continue to come from the mayor, specifically—no matter who makes up the City Council.
“We have a strong mayor form of government in Atlanta,” Owens said. “It's the mayor that sets the tone, really pushes the agenda, with the council being more responsive and reactive to the mayor, rather than the other way around.”
More than 50 candidates qualified for City Council races this year. Thirteen qualified to be on the ballot for mayor.