Atlanta Mayor Notes City's Achievements, Challenges During Annual Address

Mar 14, 2019

In her second State of the City Address, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms touted city accomplishments and presented a plan to continue growth and success.   

Setting the tone even before taking to the stage, the 60th mayor of Atlanta was accompanied into the Georgia World Congress Center by a group of female City of Atlanta Police Officers. Their entrance song of choice? "Run The World (Girls)" by Beyonce. 

Bottoms also announced the creation of the city's first Department of Transportation. She said the department will serve as a one-stop shop for any questions about getting around and should help reduce confusion.

"It really is about consolidating the man and woman power that we already have throughout the city," she said. "And making sure we are able to deliver in the way we should."

Atlanta's mayor also ticked through the city's accomplishments during her first 14 months in office, some of which include hosting Super Bowl 53, a 30-percent pay raise for police officers and plans to redevelop the Gulch, a 40-acre hole downtown.

But some challenges for the city lie ahead. Bottoms announced her Chief of Staff Marva Lewis and Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Richard Cox are each set to leave their post. 

Meanwhile, under the Gold Dome, the Senate passed legislation that would create the Georgia Airport Authority which would take control of Hartsfield-Jackson from the city and give it to the state. 

She addressed the issue calling the airport the world's busiest and most efficient and saying it's led directly to Atlanta being a strong city. 

"We are more confident than ever in the power of Atlanta," Bottoms said. "You cannot best the best."

She also said one of her goals is to repurpose the city jail. 

Last year, Bottoms signed an executive order saying the city would no longer accept U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees. The city has also eliminated cash bail and no longer accepts violent criminals at the jail. 

Because of this, the inmate population is anywhere between 70 and 100 people a night. Bottoms said she hopes to use the building for more community-oriented services.

"We're working with a cross-sector of partners and community partners, in determining the feasibility, what the cost will be and then also determining what programming we put in the jail," Bottoms said on where the city is in the process.

"But it is going to be a very large undertaking. It's going to be a very expensive undertaking. We've heard upwards of $100 million, so we'll have to determine the best way to fund that."

Despite the fight for the airport and plans to keep to Atlanta affordable, Bottoms aimed to end her remarks on a positive tone, "Atlanta, I believe we can, and so we will. The best is yet to come!"