ATLANTA -- City Councilman Bill Campbell last Tuesday overwhelmed former Fulton County Commissioner Michael Lomax to win a bitter runoff election for mayor of Atlanta.
Campbell won 73% of the vote in the nonpartisan contest. When he is sworn in on Jan. 3, he will become Atlanta's third black mayor, taking over from Maynard Jackson as the city Prepares to host the 1996 Summer Olympics.
"I don't know if I can fill the stature of Andy or Maynard," said Campbell in his victory speech, referring to Jackson and former Mayor Andrew Young. "But if I can make Atlanta a safer city, if I can improve the schools., provide better economic development, then people may say I've been a good mayor as well."
Jackson, the city's first black mayor, served for two terms from 1974 through 1982 and a third beginning in 1990. Young was mayor from 1983 through 1989.
A spokesman for Jackson said the mayor was "very pleased" with Campbell's margin of victory and would discuss transition plans at a news conference to be held tomorrow. Jackson had strongly endorsed Campbell from the beginning of the councilman's candidacy.
The runoff occurred after the regular election Nov. 2 left neither Campbell nor Lomax with a majority of votes cast. But Campbell's campaign picked up steam after the third-place finisher, Myrtle Davis, came out for him.
Lomax apparently got nowhere with efforts to link Campbell to a corruption scandal being investigated by the federal government. Two former city councilmen, one of them also a former airport commissioner, have been indicted for accepting bribes from vendors at Hartsfield International Airport.
Lomax also reaped no benefits from charges that Campbell had engaged in "unsavory efforts" to solicit campaign contributions from investment banks involved in city bond deals. Newspapers had reported that a memo from the Campbell campaign described efforts to win donations from the firms.
Instead, Lomax had to deal with voters' anger over a large property tax increase imposed by Fulton County while he was chairman of its board of commissioners. The county contains Atlanta.
"The whole issue of property tax reappraisal was something that I just could not get away from," Lomax said in a concession speech.
Lomax, who was unsuccessful in a bid to unseat Maynard Jackson in 1989, served as Fulton county commissioner for 14 years. He gave up the last year of his tenure as chairman of the commission to run for mayor.
In other runoff elections in the Atlanta area, three of four city council members were defeated.
Gloria Tinubu bested Dozier Smith, Pamela Alexander beat Morris Finley, and Vern McCarty won over Gregory Pridgeon. The fourth incumbent, Jared Samples, held on against Ari Casper Silberman. With Tuesday's results, eight of the 18-member City Council will be new.
In runoff races for the seven-member Fulton County commission, Gordon Joyner, a former commissioner, won in a race against incumbent Milton Carl Farris. John O'Callaghan easily beat former Fulton Superior Court Clerk Juanita Price.