Reed, council set totaketheiroaths

Mayor expected to lay out goals in inaugural address.

By Katie Leslie

Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council will be sworn into office today, the start of a four-year term that could see the city make deep spending cuts to fund an ambitious infrastructure improvement project.

Reed and the majority of the council are returning to the posts they held prior to last November’s election, but today’s event marks the official entrance of Mary Norwood and Andre Dickens as citywide council members. Nor-wood held the Post 2 seat for two terms beginning in 2002 before running against Reed in the 2009 mayoral race. She defeated former Councilman Aaron Watson for her current seat, while Dickens bested former Councilman H. Lamar Willis for the job.

Reed, who will give an inaugural address at today’s ceremony, has said his top priority in his second term is tackling the nearly $1 billion backlog in infrastructure needs, projects that can include road, sidewalk, pothole and bridge repair. The mayor plans to ask voters to approve a bond referendum worth $150 million to $250 million in 2015.

“That’s really what we have to focus on to change the look and feel of this city,” he said last week.

The mayor also said in a recent interview that his administration will focus on curbing recidivism rates among criminals, an effort he is expected to describe in greater detail during his inaugural address.

Council President Ceasar Mitchell, who with District 2 Councilman Kwanza Hall is considered a top contender for the 2017 mayoral race, will announce his committee chairmen appointments today. Because a council president typically cannot vote on pending legislation, such decisions are widely considered the most important way a council head can wield power and set the course of a four-year term.

The new term also marks the start of the council’s pay hike. The council voted in 2012 to increase its pay by more than 50 percent, increasing the average annual salary to about $60,000.

Channel 2 Action News reporter Dave Huddleston contributed to this article.