Recount in Atlanta mayor's race confirms winner

ATLANTA Wed Dec 9, 2009 3:02pm EST

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - A recount in the race for Atlanta mayor confirmed lawyer Kasim Reed as winner on Wednesday after an election that exposed a racial fault line in one of the leading cities in the U.S. Southeast.

City councilwoman Mary Norwood, who would have become the city's first white mayor since 1974, picked up just one vote in the recount she had requested.

She finished 714 votes behind Reed with some 84,000 votes cast, Fulton County's election office said.

Reed was declared the winner of the December 1 run-off and announced his priorities would include selecting a new police chief and shoring up city finances.

Voting mirrored Atlanta's demographics, with Reed running up big numbers in the south and west, which are majority black and include some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Norwood's support base was in mainly white northern council districts, which include some of the city's richest suburbs. Like many U.S. cities, Atlanta's metropolitan area spreads far beyond the city limits.

Both candidates avoided playing up race during the campaign, instead presenting themselves as outsiders best qualified to restore city finances and fight rising crime.

Major U.S. corporations such as Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and UPS are based in Atlanta.

For decades, civic leaders have credited part of the city's prosperity on its ability to navigate potential racial divisions and its status as home of the civil rights movement and birthplace of Martin Luther King.

(Writing by Matthew Bigg; Editing by Jim Loney and Xavier Briand)

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