ARC board chair Kerry Armstrong shakes the hand of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens after the mayor was elected to be the next ARC chair. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

For the first time in its history, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) will be chaired by the mayor of Atlanta.

At its regular board meeting on Nov. 8, the ARC board voted unanimously (in a voice vote with no nays or abstentions) to elect Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens as its next chair. He will serve for a two-year term beginning on Jan. 1.

Dickens will succeed Kerry Armstrong, a citizen member from Gwinnett County who has been chair of the board for the past decade. Armstrong decided to not run for re-election so Dickens ran unopposed.

“This was my last meeting as chair,” Armstrong said at the close of the meeting. It’s been a privilege to serve in this role, and I’m looking forward to backing up our new chair.”

During the meeting, Dickens made his nomination speech short and sweet.

“I’m very interested in serving as the ARC chair,” Dickens said in his pitch. “I’m asking you for your support.”

Anna Roach, ARC’s executive director and CEO, spoke highly of Dickens in a release after the meeting.

“Mayor Dickens is a strong leader and fierce advocate for the Atlanta region,” Roach said. “All of at ARC look forward to working closely with him and the rest of our board to build a better, brighter future for all residents.”

Several ARC board members personally went up to the mayor after the meeting to congratulate him.

In a brief interview after the meeting, Dickens acknowledged that his election was historic given that no Atlanta mayor has served on that role. In fact, no mayor in the region has ever served as ARC’s board chair. 

“For me, it’s making history,” Dickens said. “I didn’t know we were making history in this process, but it’s about time.”

In September, it became public that Dickens would be running for chair. At the time, it was not known if Armstrong would be running for re-election, which could have set up an uncomfortable power struggle.

But at the October ARC meeting, Armstrong made it clear that he would not be running for board chair, making Dickens the sole nominee.

Maria Saporta, executive editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state. From 2008 to 2020, she wrote weekly columns...

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