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Ex-state senator elected Atlanta mayor

Associated Press / December 10, 2009

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ATLANTA - Kasim Reed, former Georgia state senator, will be sworn in as Atlanta’s next mayor after a recount yesterday confirmed his slim margin of victory over opponent Mary Norwood.

His election to succeed Mayor Shirley Franklin extends a decades-long line of black mayors in the mostly black city.

It was a hard-fought race that extended beyond November’s general election with a December runoff and the recount. More than 84,000 ballots were cast in the runoff - more votes than in the general election.

Flanked by supporters, Norwood conceded the race less than two hours after the recount results were announced.

“Here we are at the end of a very, very long two years,’’ the 57-year-old councilwoman said.

She pledged to keep working to improve the city and urged her supporters to stay active.

“Do not lose hope. Keep fighting for change,’’ said Norwood, who was a neighborhood activist before joining the Atlanta City Council in 2001.

The recount showed Reed won 714 more votes than Norwood. Norwood picked up just one vote in the recount. Because of the change, Fulton County elections officials said they would have to recertify the race today.

Norwood ran a strong grass-roots campaign but fell short of becoming the city’s first white mayor since 1973.

The 40-year-old Reed, who entered the race a few months ago as a virtual unknown, ended the contest strongly, passing Norwood in fund-raising. Reed began assuming his new role even as the Dec. 1 runoff was being sorted out, announcing his chief operating officer this week and an interim police chief as the recount began yesterday.

“The city of Atlanta has to have stability,’’ said Reed, who takes office on Jan. 4.