Mayoral candidate Bobby Wilkes in a photo from his campaign website.

In a mayoral campaign year where the Buckhead cityhood movement has become a major issue, the race finally has a candidate from that neighborhood — one who previously backed the separation in online comments saying locals should let the rest of Atlanta “burn to the ground.”

Robert “Bobby” Wilkes, a real estate investor and former University of Georgia football player, filed state campaign paperwork June 21 to join the crowded race. His campaign website describes him as “The ‘Thank Police’ Candidate” and says he is focused on crime as well as corruption, ending COVID-19 restrictions, and creating affordable housing without significant zoning changes.

Wilkes, a 25-year Buckhead resident, says his earlier comments were an expression of frustration and that he hopes to gain the support of cityhood backers for a reprieve in the movement.

“I know that they say the ‘divorce is final’ between Buckhead and Atlanta, but I would like for them to give me a chance to win this election and turn the situation around,” Wilkes said of Buckhead cityhood supporters. “If we don’t, I fear that there will be more than just Buckhead folks leaving.”

Mayoral candidate Bobby Wilkes in a photo from his campaign website.

However, in July 2020 posts to a Facebook account now used for his campaigning, Wilkes wrote that Buckhead and Midtown should leave Atlanta to become their own cities. “Let’s let Atlanta burn to the ground with their Mayor and let’s make Midtown and Buckhead safe,” he wrote. “… Leave Democrats to kill each other and burn down their own neighborhoods and let’s protect ours!”

His comments also suggested the separatist areas could become a “safe zone,” meaning a “Republican controlled area,” against crime and where controversial Confederate statues could be relocated. In many other posts Wilkes supported former President Trump and caustically criticized various Democrats and left-wing activists.

Wilkes now says those comments came at an emotional time during protests. “Under no circumstances am I for Atlanta burning to the ground! That comment was made more out of disgust for the safety conditions of cities in all parts of the country where weak mayors are in control and the cities are suffering,” said Wilkes.

A group called the Buckhead Exploratory Committee, largely citing crime concerns, is promoting separate cityhood for the neighborhood and got state legislation filed earlier this year to begin a lengthy process that would study and seek a public vote on the idea. The effort has been condemned by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and local business organizations, and is opposed by another local group called the Committee for a United Atlanta.

The field for the Nov. 2 mayoral election currently includes such well-known figures as City Councilmembers Antonio Brown and Andre Dickens; attorney Sharon Gay; City Council President Felicia Moore; and former Mayor Kasim Reed. Others who have filed paperwork or declared runs include Brandon Adkins, Alex Barrella, Rachele Fruit, Amanda McGee, Walter Reeves and Devonta “Sully” Sullivan. Bottoms has said she will not run for reelection.

Update: This story has been updated with comment from Wilkes about his current cityhood position.

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  1. From someone who is from his hometown, Bobby was once the nicest guy, but I think he has suffered to many hits to the head in his football years causing him to think and act irrationally as he gets older. He is an extremist. Just take a look at his FB page. He shouldn’t be allowed anywhere NEAR a position of authority. Not only are his political views VERY far to the right, his views on women, minorities, and other social issues are alarming and disturbing. He is NOT the same person he once was–and it is very sad. Stay far away from this guy.

  2. This is pretty funny, and what better mayoral candidate, supporting secession, than one who has too many mTBI injuries. What a good look for Atlanta, firsrt Keisha robbed the entire city, now some guy with several Traumatic Brain Injuries, all of whoich have gone undiagnosed. Atlanta, what have you become, youre the most rock steady jurisdiction in America, now youre being destrpyed by Keisha, only to have a partially cognitiavely-aware jock who forgot lunch time is over, so he can no longer bully kids for teh vtoes

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