Atlantans weigh in on the challenges facing a new mayor

ATLANTA — Residents of the city of Atlanta believe the next mayor will have several challenges to overcome.

On Thursday, current Mayor Keshia Lance Bottoms announced that she will not be seeking a second term for the city’s top job.

Many around the city feel that a new administration will face two challenges: the uptick in crime and the rapid development in numerous neighborhoods, which they said needs careful management.

“I’ve been here when it was extremely bad, when it was good and now we’re going back to extremely bad,” Jane Ridley said.

Ridley has lived in her Mechanicsville home for 30 years. She said her neighborhood needs more active policing right now.

“You hear shots fired constantly in this neighborhood. We used to call the police but the police don’t do anything so what’s the use of calling the police,” Ridley said.

Murders citywide are up 57% this year.

Shootings are up 44%, yet total arrests are down by 43%.

The head of the Atlanta Police Foundation, Dave Wilkinson, calls this a crisis.

“First of all we need more police officers. We need more police visibility and more cops on the street,” Wilkinson said.

Public safety is not the only challenge facing Atlanta’s next mayor.

There is an effort by some Buckhead residents to create their own city. If successful, they would take an estimated 45% of Atlanta’s property tax base with them.

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“A lot of people said are we now rethinking our strategy and the answer is we are 100% on our path and we filed for divorce and are going to see it through,” said Bill White, a member of the Buckhead Exploratory Committee.

A city neighborhood change report found other sections of the city are being stressed by rapid gentrification.

The report found that 38% of Atlanta’s population experienced substantial neighborhood change.

Buckhead Coalition President Jim Durrett doesn’t support Buckhead cityhood efforts and wants to keep Buckhead part of Atlanta.

However, Durrett does believe that dealing with crime citywide should be priority one for the next mayor.

“If you are not feeling that’s it safe to go outside or go to a restaurant then everything else in your life really takes a backseat to that,” Durrett said.