Ken Welch wins open seat in St. Petersburg; Francis Suarez and Elaine O’Neal cruise to victory in Miami and Durham
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com
(CFP) — Voters in four large Southern cities decided elections for city offices Tuesday, with the field set for a November 30 runoff for the open mayor’s post in Atlanta.
In Atlanta, where incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms did not seek re-election, City Council President Felicia Moore ran up a large lead in a 14-person race, but her 41% was not enough for the majority she needed to avoid a runoff.
In the battle for the second runoff spot, with all precincts reporting, City Councilman Andre Dickens held just a 576 vote lead over former mayor Kasim Reed, who was trying to make a comeback to the mayor’s office he held from 2010 to 2018.
Dickens declared victory for the second spot, but Reed has so far not conceded.
The race has focused on rising violent crime in the city and Reed’s previous time as mayor, with several former aides convicted or facing corruption charges. Reed himself has not been charged, but critics argued that the ethical problems in his previous administration should be disqualifying.
Bottoms, who led the city through the COVID-19 pandemic and was mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Joe Biden last year, surprised the political world in May when she announced that she would not seek another term as mayor.
In St. Petersburg, where Mayor Rick Kriseman is term limited, former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch easily defeated City Council member Robert Blackmon.
While city elections in St. Petersburg are officially non-partisan, Welch is a Democrat and Blackmon is a Republican, and the race has taken on a partisan hue, with endorsements from party leaders on both sides..
In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez won re-election in a landslide against four little known candidates.
In Durham, where Mayor Steve Schewel did not seek re-election, Elaine O’Neal, a former judge and law professor, will become the first black woman elected to lead the city.
She won 86% in the first round of voting in October, prompting the second-place candidate, City Council member Javiera Caballero, to suspend her campaign.