I recently had a friend ask me some questions about the upcoming elections in Atlanta this year, and I have to admit, I didn’t have a lot of answers. So, I found some answers. Here’s your general overview of the 2017 Atlanta elections.
There are four main sets of elections for Atlantans on November 7, 2017:
- Mayoral election
- City Council elections
- City Judge elections
- Board of Education elections
To understand these elections, you need to have a basic understanding of how the government of the city of Atlanta works.
The mayor is the top executive branch member of Atlanta’s city government (like the president). Everybody who lives in the city of Atlanta votes on the mayor. The mayor is elected at-large, you might say. The current mayor, Kasim Reed, cannot run for reelection, because mayors are limited by law to serve only 2 terms, and he’s already used up his 2 terms. So, it’s an open race between all parties, with no incumbent.
The city councilmembers are the legislature (like congresspersons). The city council is a bit confusing. The city council website is a good resource for understanding who the councilmembers are, and they offer a pretty concise explanation of how it all works here. Basically, there are 15 councilmembers, and 1 council president (so 16 total). 12 councilmembers are elected by district, meaning that where you live determines which district you’re in and, therefore, which district you vote in. 3 members are elected at-large for “post” positions, and the 1 council president is also elected at-large, meaning that all Atlantans vote on those seats, regardless of where you live in the city limits. To illustrate, I’m in District 6, so I’ll be voting for the 6th District councilmember, the 3 post positions, and the 1 council president position (so 4 total council positions). You can find your district by entering your address here. To answer the question of who is running, you really need to just focus on your district and ignore the other districts, because it can be confusing. Alex Wan is the councilmember for the 6th District, but he’s not running for reelection of the 6th, since instead he is running for city council president. That’s also true for some of the other sitting councilmembers.
The judges are obviously in charge of judging things, and they do this for the Municipal Court of Atlanta.
The Board of Education deals with Atlanta Public Schools. Here’s their website, which explains this stuff. There are 9 total board members. 6 are elected by district depending on where you live, and 3 are elected at-large by all Atlantans. To illustrate, I’m in District 3, so I’ll vote for the 3rd District board member and the 3 at-large members. You can find your district here.
As for the candidates, the AJC has a solid write-up, which can be found here.
To find your polling place, go here.