Sheperd in Surprise Run-off for Atlanta Council District 12
Graphic by Adrian Paulette Coleman, Atlanta Progressive News.
(APN) ATLANTA — Atlanta City Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd, who has served for seventeen years as the District 12 representative, was forced into a Run-off Election with Antonio Lewis, in a surprise to many.
The District 12 race is one of seven Council races headed to a Run-off, including Council President; Post 3-at-large; and Districts 1, 3, 4, 5, and 12.
Previously, in Part One, Atlanta Progressive News covered the Run-off race for Mayor.
In Part Two, APN covered the Run-offs for Council President and Post 3-at-large, and the results for Post 1 and 2-at-large.
In Part Three, APN covered the Run-offs for Districts 1, 3, 4, and 5; and the results for Districts 2 and 6.
In this part, APN reviews the Run-off for District 12; and the results for Districts 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11.
Shook is set to become the second-longest serving member of the Council if Councilwoman Winslow is reelected.
However, if Jason Dozier defeats Winslow, then Shook will become the longest serving member, or the Dean, of the Council.
If Winslow and Sheperd are reelected, they will be the only three Councilmembers of the fifteen to have served consecutively since at least 2005.
If Dozier defeats Winslow, and Lewis defeats Sheperd, then Shook will be the only Member of Council to have served consecutively since at least 2005.
Councilman Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large) served prior to 2005, but there was a gap in his service; Bond returned to the Council in 2010.
“I want to thank each of you that supported my… return to City Hall. I look forward to making a difference for our city with meaningful legislation to protect our neighborhoods,” Norwood wrote in an email to supporters on Aug. 25, 2021 after no one else qualified to run for the seat.
Incumbent J.P. Matzigkeit, who was elected in 2017 and has served since 2018, did not run for reelection.
She previously served twice as the Post 2-at-large Councilwoman. That seat is currently held by Matt Westmoreland.
Norwood was first elected in 2001 to Post 2-at-large and she served the first time from 2002 to 2010. In 2009, she ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Atlanta, narrowly defeated by Kasim Reed.
In 2013, Norwood ran again for her Post 2-at-large seat; and she defeated Aaron Watson, who held the seat from 2010 to 2014.
Norwood served for the second time as Post 2-at-large representative from 2014 to 2018. In 2017, she ran for Mayor of Atlanta for the second time, again being narrowly defeated, this time by Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Since then, Norwood has served as the Chairwoman of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods. During that time, she has taken the leadership on issues including crime and the preservation of single-family neighborhoods.
“The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods provides a unified voice to address and protect the common interests and quality of life issues shared by all Buckhead neighborhoods”, according to its website.
Topics such as education, transportation, traffic, community development, and government services are highlighted in most meetings.
This time, Norwood represents Buckhead, rather than the whole City. It will be interesting to see how this change is reflected in her actions on Council.
Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhoods are currently undergoing a new initiative to secede from the City of Atlanta and create a new city, Buckhead City.
It is expected that the Georgia Legislature next year will likely pass pre-filed legislation to create a referendum for the voters of Buckhead to decide whether or not they wish to create a new city.
The pressure will be on for the City of Atlanta; and for Buckhead-area representatives such as Norwood and Shook, to demonstrate that the City of Atlanta can adequately serve the residents of Buckhead by addressing their concerns especially around crime and City services.
Challenger Jason Hudgins received 13.6 percent.
Boone won reelection with the biggest margin of any incumbent Councilmember with a challenger.
“I would like to say thank you to the residents of Council District 10 for their vote of confidence and support during my election,” Boone said in a statement prepared for Atlanta Progressive News.
“As a life-long resident of District 10, I know and love every fiber of my community. I am hopeful that my constituents felt the care, concern, and commitment to service that I stand for and provide to the community at all levels,” Boone said.
“My first four years in office as an elected official were filled with uncertainty and unexpected circumstances for the entire Nation. I remained focused on the immediate needs of my constituents,” Boone said.
“I was fortunate and do not take for granted the results of my elections and the large margin by which I won. The turnout and the results say it all. I am looking forward to the next four years,” she said.
Councilwoman Marci Overstreet was reelected with 79 percent of the vote.
Challenger Ron Shakir received 21 percent.
Jenne Shepherd, no relation to Councilwoman Sheperd, received 17.8 percent of the vote.
Councilwoman Sheperd first won election in 2004 after then-District 12 incumbent Derrick Boazman ran in a Special Election for Council President.
[Lisa Borders won that 2004 race with Boazman and others, which was created when then-Council President Cathy Woolard ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House, GA-04.]
“We worked hard here on the south side. We weren’t surprised,” Lewis told APN, saying he felt the District 12 voter turnout was historically high. “We brought some folks out.”
Sheperd is one of the biggest antagonists on the City Council against members of the public who make public comments at Committee Meetings and Full Council Meetings.
“I think Joyce Sheperd has forgotten about us. She’s been serving for too long. As NPU Chair, you never would’ve accepted that,” Lewis said, referring to the fact that Sheperd served as Chairwoman of Neighborhood Planning Unit X (NPU-X) prior to joining the City Council.
“If you come to City Council and want to talk, why should they limit you?” Lewis said.
Lewis pointed to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper referring to the District 12 race as Black Lives Matter versus Blue Lives Matter.
“First of all, Blue Lives Matter,” Sheperd told the Atlanta Police Department at an event on May 11, 2021 for the Thirtieth Annual Atlanta Police Department Memorial Service.
“I’m definitely Black Lives Matter,” Lewis said.
Lewis was part of the defund the police movement and joined the protests activities in the spring and summer of 2020.
Lewis criticized Sheperd for her recent support of the so-called “Cop City” legislation, which authorized a lease to create a police training center that was fiercely opposed by a great many Atlantans but generally supported by Buckhead.
“The protest I organized on Cleveland Ave and Metropolitan made the front page of the New York Times,” Lewis said.
“Oscar Cain and Rayshard Brooks were friends of mine,” he said, referring to two men of color in District 12 killed by Atlanta Police.
In June 2020, after a high-profile shooting at a Wendy’s restaurant in District 12, in which Atlanta Police killed Rayshard Brooks, community members and activists created a memorial at the site of the Wendy’s.
Sheperd stood with community members who wanted to continue their presence outside of the Wendy’s, against national criticism especially from right-wing media pundits who argued the memorial site was dangerous. Eventually, Sheperd relented and the police removed protesters from the site.
“That Wendy’s situation got dangerous, to the point where… they were brandishing guns. I believe the police should’ve went in and got folks out of there. That had nothing to do with the protest, that was people squatting,” Lewis said.
Lewis was a member of District 3 Councilman Antonio Brown’s People’s Uprising Task Force.
Lewis was an intern in former Mayor Shirley Franklin’s Mayor’s Next Step Program. He went on to work for now-former Congressman William Lacy Clay (D-MO).
In 2012, Lewis ran in the Democratic Primary for State House District 60; Keisha Waites won the Primary and went on to serve in the State House for four years.
In 2017, Lewis filed a Declaration of Intent to run for District 12 but decided not to run.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2021)