Andre Dickens sworn in as Atlanta's 61st mayor
ATLANTA - Andre Dickens is officially Atlanta's 61st mayor.
Dickens became mayor during a ceremony on Monday afternoon at his alma mater, the Georgia Institute of Technology,, at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
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Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman, and former mayors Shirley C. Franklin and Keisha Lance Bottoms also gave remarks during the event.
In his address, Dickens said he felt honored to be inaugurated at his alma mater.
The former councilman congratulated the new Atlanta City Council members and City Council President.
The Adamsville native and father recognized the accomplishments of his predecessors. He looked forward to the challenges he faces that will shape his mayoral legacy.
"Each mayor had their burden and mine is to bring us together to form a safe the thriving city," Dickson said.
Dickens commented on the Buckhead City movement, which is becoming a topic of debate as Georgia's latest legislative session approaches.
"We don't need separate cities. We must be one city with one bright future," Dickens said.
Dickens said the city has survived crime waves before and he believes it will pull through the one it's currently facing.
Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens attends his run-off election night party at The Gathering Spot. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
The mayor-elect spent the weekend taking part in community service projects across the city, including assembling personal hygiene kits and cleaning up Nancy Creek Park.
Dickens says he is ready to hit the ground running. One of his top priorities will be to beef up the lighting around Atlanta to hopefully increase safety.
Dickens beat City Council President Felicia Moore in a mayoral runoff in November.
Who is Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens?
The son of a single mother, Dickens made the jump to an engineering degree at the elite Georgia Tech and later earned a master’s degree in public administration at Georgia State University. Dickens is a Baptist deacon at church he helped found and has one daughter with his former wife.
The 47-year-old Dickens has long had his sights set on the city’s top office, recounting on the night of his victory a dispute between him and his mother Sylvia about when he first announced his ambition.
"I said it was when I was 16, she said it was when I was 12 years old, that I wanted to be mayor of the city of Atlanta one day," Dickens said. "And look at us now."
Before running for mayor, Dickens worked for TechBridge, a nonprofit that tries to use technology to aid other charitable groups. Dickens also founded a program to train people for technology work, trying to broaden access to high-paying jobs in Atlanta. He earlier ran a family-owned furniture store chain that collapsed in bankruptcy a decade ago, something Dickens blamed on the effects of the Great Recession.
What are Mayor Andre Dickens's plans for Atlanta?
Dickens has pledged to increase the number of police officers, arrest gang leaders and implement community policing. He says he may keep current Police Chief Rodney Bryant, who came out of retirement in 2020 after the previous chief resigned following a fatal police shooting of a Black man that led to unrest.
Dickens also wants to increase affordable housing, improve infrastructure and ensure current residents qualify for high-paying jobs.
In his victory speech in November, Dickens focused more in his victory speech on trying to promote equity in Atlanta, where there is a sharp chasm between richer, whiter residents and poorer, Blacker residents. He said he wanted to restore the city as a beacon of opportunity for all residents.
"The city is facing multigenerational poverty. We’re facing the highest income inequality in the nation. And yes, we are fighting a crime spike right now in this city," Dickens said, observing that his opponents were never the 13 other candidates who ran for mayor. "My opponent is homelessness, hopelessness, joblessness, racism, poverty, violence."
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.