“I am going to vote for Andre Dickens because I think he is the best qualified candidate,” Franklin told WSB radio. “He’s got public sector experience, he’s got private sector experience and he’s got non-profit experience. He’s an engineer and he’s a deacon. He’s honest, he’s hardworking but he is also very innovative.
“I think he is the right person for this time and moving forward.”
Being mayor has been a decades-long dream for Dickens, entrenched after meeting then-Mayor Andrew Young while attending a summer program, Dickens’ mother Sylvia Dickens said.
“I told Andre, ‘He’s mayor,’ and he said ‘I want to be mayor one day,’” Sylvia Dickens said. “He says he was 16 then, but he was 12.”
Sylvia Dickens said her son’s honesty is needed in a mayor — while in college, he wrote her a letter to tell her his grades slipped.
“I would have never known it, but he wanted me to know,” Sylvia Dickens said. “That’s the kind of person he is.”
Striking a similar line as President Joe Biden during his race last year, Dickens says this year’s election is for the “soul of Atlanta.”
“Who are we and are we going to grow and go forward in a way that’s for peace, productivity and prosperity for everyone?” Dickens said during a recent press conference. “Or are we going to go backwards into despair, destruction and corruption?”
Dickens has criticized Reed’s administration for the federal corruption investigation of City Hall. The probe ensnared several members of Reed’s team, including bribery convictions against his chief procurement officer and a deputy chief of staff. Reed’s chief financial officer is currently under indictment for fraud and weapons charges.
Reed says there has been no evidence of systemic corruption during his administration, nor any directly linked to him.
Ro Lawson, an Inman Park resident and Dickens’ friend of 20 years, said the councilman’s integrity is the main reason he has her support.
“This is a man who is not having $100,000 parties, but is employing veterans and youth with $100,000 jobs,” she said, comparing Reed’s campaign kickoff to a training program Dickens created to help low-wage workers find jobs.
Raised by a strict mother who worked for the phone company, Dickens is the youngest of two children. His stepfather, an airplane mechanic, adopted Dickens when he was 7. The two would take things apart and put them back together, fostering Dickens’ interest in engineering.
Dickens is a deacon at New Horizon Baptist Church, the church he grew up attending, and has a 16-year-old daughter who splits her time between Dickens and his ex-wife.
During his time on the City Council, Dickens said he is most proud of sponsoring the legislation that created the city’s transportation department, starting the conversation to increase minimum wage for city employees to $15 and passing policies aimed at increasing Atlanta’s affordable housing — such as requiring new rental properties along the Beltline to set aside at least 10% of the units for affordable housing.
Atlanta’s next mayor will have to stem a recent uptick in crime. Dickens said he plans to focus on bolstering Atlanta’s police force, implementing more community policing initiatives and arresting violent gang leaders.
Dickens has been outraised throughout the campaign. He reported raising $1 million this election cycle — of which he loaned himself $25,000 — and having almost $200,000 on hand as of Sept. 30. Reed is leading in campaign contributions, having raised $2.8 million with $912,000 on hand. Moore reported having $460,000 left in her campaign account after having raised about $1.1 million this cycle.