TagMayoral elections

Twenty-four top 100 cities holding mayoral elections in 2022

Twenty-four of the 100 largest U.S. cities by population are holding mayoral elections in 2022. In 15 of those cities, the incumbent is a Democrat. Five incumbents are Republicans, one is independent, and three are nonpartisan.

Two of those cities hold partisan elections, and the rest hold nonpartisan elections. In cities where mayoral elections are nonpartisan, Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Currently, the partisan breakdown of the mayors of the top 100 cities is 62 Democrats, 26 Republicans, four independents, and seven nonpartisans. One mayor has not responded to inquiries about his partisan affiliation.

In 2021, 28 of the top 100 cities held mayoral elections, and two offices changed partisan control: one as a result of an election, and one as the result of a mayor switching parties. Once mayors elected in 2021 assumed office, the mayors of 63 of the country’s 100 largest cities were affiliated with the Democratic Party, 26 were Republicans, four were independent, six were nonpartisan, and one was unknown. Ahead of the 2022 election cycle, Ballotpedia updated our list of top 100 cities based on data from the 2020 census, swapping out Birmingham, Alabama, which had a Democratic mayor at the time, and San Bernardino, California, with a Republican mayor, for Santa Clarita, California, with a Republican mayor, and Spokane, Washington, with a nonpartisan mayor.

Ballotpedia provides comprehensive coverage of elections on the ballot in America’s 100 largest cities by population each year, along with elections in counties that overlap with them. We also cover elections for mayors, city council members, and district attorneys in each state capital. Eleven state capitals are holding mayoral elections in 2022, including eight capitals that fall outside of the top 100 cities. In nine of those 11 capitals, the incumbent is a Democrat, and two incumbents are Republicans.

Previewing Milwaukee’s April 5 special mayoral election

The city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is holding a special general election for mayor on April 5, 2022. Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Robert Donovan advanced from a February 15 primary with 42% and 22% of the vote, respectively. Seven candidates ran.

The special election was called after Mayor Tom Barrett resigned on Dec. 22, 2021, to become the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. Wisconsin Public Radio’s Corrinne Hess wrote the special election “could mean a historic change for Milwaukee. Wisconsin’s largest city could have its first elected Black mayor, or with Donovan, have a conservative leader for the first time.”

The office is officially nonpartisan. Johnson said he is a Democrat. When Donovan ran for mayor in 2016, a campaign spokesman described him as independent. When asked in February 2022 if he thought Milwaukee would elect a conservative mayor, Donovan said, “I think the times are to the point where people are open to looking at some changes.”

Johnson first joined the Milwaukee Common Council in 2016 and was elected council president by his peers in 2020. Johnson says he has personally experienced the city’s struggles with violence and crime. Johnson emphasizes his public safety plan, which he says is comprehensive and includes measures to prevent violence. Johnson said he led on securing funds for 200 additional police officers. He criticized Donovan’s public safety plan as being outdated.

Donovan served on the council from 2000 to 2020. He lost the 2016 mayoral election to Barrett 30% to 70%. Donovan has discussed his 20 years on the council and his past chairmanship of the Public Safety Committee and the Anti-Graffiti Policy Committee. Donovan has highlighted his public safety plan, including increasing police staffing and foot and bicycle patrols, and criticized Johnson by saying the city experienced its worst bout of violence during Johnson’s time as council president.

The city charter states the council president serves as acting mayor in the event of a vacancy.

Ballotpedia is covering 32 mayoral elections in 2022—24 in the 100 largest U.S. cities by population and eight in state capitals falling outside the 100 largest cities. At the start of this year, 62 of the 100 largest cities’ mayors were Democrats, 26 were Republicans, and 11 were independent or nonpartisan. One mayor’s affiliation was unknown.

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Incumbent David Holt wins Oklahoma City mayoral election

The nonpartisan mayoral election for Oklahoma City, Okla., was held on Feb. 8. The candidate filing deadline was Dec. 8.

Incumbent David Holt defeated Frank Urbanic, Carol Hefner, and Jimmy Lawson. Holt received 59.8% of the votes. Though the office is nonpartisan, Holt has identified as a Republican.

The runoff election, scheduled for April 5, was canceled after Holt won the general election outright.

Oklahoma City is the largest city in Oklahoma and the 27th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

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Elections to be held March 1 in Montpelier, Vt.

Nonpartisan elections for the mayor and four of the six city council seats in Montpelier, Vt. are scheduled for March 1. The candidate filing deadline passed on Jan. 24.

Anne Watson and Stephen Whitaker are competing in the mayoral race. Dona Bate is running unopposed in District 1, and Conor Casey is running unopposed in District 2. Alice Goltz and Cary Brown are competing for one of the District 3 seats. Another District 3 seat is up for special election on the same date. Jennifer Morton and Gene Leon are competing in the special election.

The special election was called after Dan Richardson resigned on Sept. 1 to become the city attorney for Burlington. Richardson served from March 2021 to Sept. 2021. 

Montpelier is the capital of Vermont. The city’s population was 8,074 as of 2020.

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Dickens defeats Moore in Atlanta mayoral runoff election

City Councilman Andre Dickens (D) defeated City Council President Felicia Moore (D) in the general runoff election for mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 30, 2021, receiving 64% of the vote to Moore’s 36%. Incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) announced on May 6, 2021, that she would not seek re-election, making her the first Atlanta mayor since World War II to choose not to run for a second term.

Dickens and Moore advanced to a runoff after placing second and first, respectively, in the Nov. 2 general election. Moore received 41% of the vote followed by Dickens with 23%. This was the city’s seventh mayoral runoff since 1973.

Dickens was first elected to the city council in 2013 and won re-election in 2017. During the mayoral race, he promoted his SAFE Streets Atlanta plan, a series of public safety proposals in response to voter concerns regarding crime. He received endorsements from Mayor Lance Bottoms, former Mayors Shirley Jackson (D) and Andrew Young (D), and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D). Dickens also received endorsements from six members of the Atlanta City Council and three Fulton County Commissioners.

The number of votes cast in the runoff decreased by 18.1% compared to the general election, making this the largest decrease since the 1993 contest between Bill Campbell and Michael Lomax. 2021 was also the second time since at least 1981 where the second-place finisher in the general election went on to win the runoff.

Brown defeats Walton in Buffalo, New York mayoral election

Byron Brown (D) defeated India Walton (D) in the general election for mayor of Buffalo, New York, on November 2, 2021. Brown, who ran as a write-in candidate in the general election, received 59.6% of the vote to Walton’s 40%.

Walton defeated Brown in the June 22 Democratic primary. Following his primary defeat, Brown announced he would run in the general election as a write-in candidate. Walton received 51% of the vote in the June 22 primary followed by Brown with 46%. Brown was first elected mayor of Buffalo in 2005 and won re-election three times before the 2021 election. Before losing the 2021 primary, he had won the four preceding Democratic mayoral primaries by an average margin of 26.5 percentage points.

A write-in victory in one of the country’s 100 largest cities is rare but not unheard of. Mike Duggan, the mayor of Detroit, Mich., advanced from a 2013 primary as a write-in candidate. And Beverly O’Neil won re-election to a third term as mayor of Long Beach, Calif., in 2002 as a write-in.

Before the election, the New York Times’ Jesse McKinley said the mayoral race “reflects the defining tension within the national Democratic Party, pitting its new generation of left-wing politicians against its more moderate establishment,” referring to Walton and Brown, respectively.

Walton, a nurse and community activist, said Brown had not delivered results as mayor, and that his record “showed that he doesn’t have much care … for the people of Buffalo, unless they’re wealthy developers or heads of large corporations.” She received endorsements from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the local and national branches of the Democratic Socialists of America, and the Working Families Party of New York. She also received a general election endorsement from the Erie County Democratic Party, which endorsed Brown in the primary but switched its support to Walton following her primary election victory.

Brown, who became the city’s longest-serving mayor in January 2021, said Walton was “an unqualified, inexperienced, radical socialist,” and described the general election as “a choice between proven results and false, empty promises.” He received general election endorsements from U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Common Councilmembers Joseph Golombek (D), Christopher Scanlon (D), and Ulysees Wingo (D), and former Mayor Anthony Masiello (D). He also received endorsements from The Buffalo News and the local, county, and state police benevolent associations.

Both Walton and Brown also received support from satellite organizations. The Working Families Party’s national PAC supported Walton with satellite spending, while the New York State Association of Realtors and the New York Republican Party supported Brown.

Sean “Jaz” Miles (R), Benjamin Carlisle (I), William O’Dell (I), and Taniqua Simmons (I) also ran in the general election as write-in candidates.

As of December 2021, 63 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 26 are affiliated with the Republican Party, four are independents, six identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, and one mayor’s affiliation is unknown. While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party.

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Party control of mayor’s office in Columbia, S.C., flips from Democratic to Republican in runoff

Daniel Rickenmann defeated Tameika Isaac Devine in the runoff election for mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, on Nov. 16. Rickenmann received 52% of the vote to Devine’s 48%. Both Rickenmann and Devine are members of the Columbia City Council.

While mayoral elections in Columbia are nonpartisan, Rickenmann is affiliated with the Republican Party. Incumbent Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, a Democrat, did not run for re-election. Benjamin endorsed Devine, also a Democrat, in the runoff.

Fifteen state capitals held mayoral elections in 2021. Before these elections, 14 officeholders were Democrats and one was nonpartisan. As a result of the 2021 elections, 12 mayoral offices will remain under Democratic control (Atlanta, Georgia, will hold a runoff election between two Democrats on Nov. 30). The election in Columbia flips one office from Democratic to Republican control. One office continues to be held by a nonpartisan mayor, and one newly-elected mayor has not responded to inquiries.

Currently, the mayors of 39 state capitals are affiliated with the Democratic Party. Four are Republicans, one is independent, and two are nonpartisan. Four mayors have not responded to inquiries about their partisan affiliation.

In cities where mayoral elections are nonpartisan, Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

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Davison declared winner in Seattle city attorney race

Ann Davison defeated Nicole Thomas-Kennedy in the general election for city attorney of Seattle, Washington, on Nov. 2, 2021. According to King County’s unofficial election results updated on Nov. 4, Davison received 55.1% of the vote to Thomas-Kennedy’s 44.1%.

Crosscut, a nonprofit Seattle news site, said the race was “one of clear contrasts and highlights just how divided the city is over issues of crime, public safety and criminal justice.” Another Seattle-based nonprofitpublication, the South Seattle Emerald, said the race “gets to the heart of a question all the more relevant since anti-police protests broke out in 2020: In Seattle, what do we consider justice and how should it be administered?”

Davison is a Seattle attorney and arbitrator. She ran as a Republican for lieutenant governor of Washington in 2020. Davison said the city needs “balanced leadership that makes us smart on crime: proactive not reactive” and said she would “focus on improving efficiencies within division in regards to zoning” and “transform existing Mental Health Court to specialized Behavioral Health Court for cases that involve mental health, substance use disorder or dual diagnosis.” Seattle news blog My Northwest described Davison “as more of an overt conservative, as a registered Republican who’s been vocal on her ‘tough on crime’ politics” compared to Thomas-Kennedy, whose “position as an ‘abolitionist’ in favor of ending the prosecution of low-level misdemeanors would represent a sizable shift in the City Attorney’s Office.”

Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and criminal and eviction attorney. She said the city “chooses to prosecute petty offenses born out of poverty, addiction and disability” and these prosecutions “further destabilize people who, in the world’s richest country, cannot get their basic needs met.” Instead of prosecuting low-level offenses, Thomas-Kennedy’s campaign website said she supported increasing the scope of the city’s education, job training, and addiction treatment programs and would “stop throwing away money on what we know does not work, and use the power and resources of the office to build community-based programs and solutions that prevent harm and result in truly healthy communities.”

In Seattle, the city attorney heads the city’s Law Department and supervises all litigation in which the city is involved. The city attorney supervises a team of assistant city attorneys who provide legal advice and assistance to the City’s management and prosecute violations of City ordinances.

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No partisan changes occurred in Nov. 2 mayoral elections for top-100 cities

Mayoral elections on Nov. 2 did not result in partisan changes in any of the 100 largest cities by population. Two elections are upcoming: the Atlanta, Georgia, mayoral election advanced to a Nov. 30 runoff, and New Orleans, Louisiana, will hold a mayoral election on Nov. 13, with a possible second election on Dec. 11.

Two partisan changes in top-100 mayoral offices occurred earlier in 2021:

  • North Las Vegas Mayor John J. Lee announced that he was changing his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican on April 6, 2021.
  • David Bronson (R) assumed office as mayor of Anchorage, Alaska on July 1, 2021, replacing nonpartisan acting mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, who assumed office following the resignation of Ethan Berkowitz (D).

Twenty-eight of the 100 largest cities are holding mayoral elections this year. In 19 of those 28 cities, the incumbent was Democratic at the start of 2021. Seven incumbents were Republican, one was independent, and one was nonpartisan.

Currently, 63 of the 100 largest cities’ mayors are Democrats, 26 are Republicans, and 10 are either nonpartisan or independent. One mayor’s affiliation is unknown.

In cities where mayoral elections are nonpartisan, Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Mayor and city council races advance to runoffs in Columbia, S.C.

The general municipal election in Columbia, S.C., was held on Nov. 2. Candidates competed for mayor and three seats on the seven-seat city council. 

In the nonpartisan mayor’s race, Daniel Rickenmann and Tameika Isaac Devine advanced to a general runoff election, defeating Sam Johnson and Moe Baddourah. The runoff, scheduled for Nov. 16, is needed because no candidate earned more than 50% of the vote in the general election. 

In the race for the at-large city council seat, Aditi Bussells and Tyler Bailey advanced to a runoff, defeating five other candidates. In District 1, Tina Herbert defeated Christa Williams outright, earning 54% of the vote to Williams’ 45%. Joe Taylor won the District 4 race, in which he was unopposed.

Columbia is the capital of South Carolina. Ballotpedia covers elections for mayor, city council, and district attorney in all capital cities in the U.S.