Atlanta’s two mayoral runoff candidates meet face-to-face at forum

For the first time since last week’s election, the two remaining candidates went face to face tonight to talk to voters about why they think they’d be the best choice.

Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore and Councilman Andre Dickens made their first public appearance as runoff opponents at a forum on Monday night at the Gathering Spot on Northyards Blvd.

The challenge for both candidates at this forum was to distinguish themselves from the other person in the race – both of whom have similar positions on a range of issues.

The two main topics of discussion: affordability of living in Atlanta, and the recent surge in crime.

"We have a broken city," said Moore, who got 41 percent of the vote last week. "We have not paid attention to the foundation, the fundamental services of the city and how they’re delivered."

Both Moore and Dickens acknowledged the void in public safety in the city.

"We need a balanced approach to crime, which is to look at safety and justice to make sure that we are smart on crime," said Dickens, who got 23 percent of the vote on election day. "We’re 450 to 500 officers short so we do have to hire 250 officers in the first year."

Both candidates also called for enhanced 24/7 response from mental health professionals to people in crisis or experiencing houselessness, many of whom also suffer from addiction and other mental illnesses.

They both also said they were in favor of building the controversial public safety training facility proposed in DeKalb County.

The forum was hosted by several organizations, including the Fulton County chapter of the League of Women Voters and the Georgia ACLU.

Dickens contended that the city’s crime and poverty problems will only get worse if economic inequality is not addressed.

"This tale of two cities, and it is going to end up being the tale of one city," he said. "It’s going to be San Francisco where is all prosperity and all of the poor folks have to drive in every day to serve the rich and then they go back home at night."

There’s a bit of a disparity between the two campaigns’ own finances. The most recent financial disclosure reports from October 25 show that dickens’ campaign had about $108,000 on hand. Moore’s campaign had almost $162,000.

Both numbers were reported before the runoff was called and even more cash is expected to go to both campaigns in the coming weeks.

"I’ve been able to build coalitions, work with people across the city," said Moore. "I’m ready to address the needs that we have in our city from safety to services, and transparency."

Both candidates have just a few weeks to rally support.

The runoff is set for Nov. 30.

Early voting will begin on Nov. 17th.

Voters can click here to check their registration status.