ATLANTA – Kwanza Hall, a former member of the Atlanta City Council, won special short-term elections for a short term at Congress on Tuesday and will succeed the late civil rights legend John Lewis.
The 49-year-old Hall in the Atlanta district defeated 66-year-old Democrat Robert Franklin and will only serve until January 3 for a few weeks.
Hall and Franklin had the highest turnout in the September election after Lewis, a civil rights titan, died in July after 34 years in Congress. None of the candidates won a majority and forced the process, with the result that the winner only has about a month left in Congress.
Lewis ’long-term deputy will be state senator and Democratic Party president Nikema Williams, who easily defeated Republican Angela Stanton King in November for a full two-year term beginning in January. Williams and King did not run in the special election.
Convention Area V includes much of Atlanta and some suburban areas in Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties. About 22,000 people voted, less than 5% of the registered voters in the district.
Also on Tuesday, Sonya Halpern beat Linda Pritchett to replace Williams in the state Senate in District 39, which covers certain areas of Fulton County. Clarke and Oconee County voters elected Democrat Deborah Gonzalez as a district attorney instead of James Chafin, a non-party candidate.
Lewis died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80. He was the youngest and last surviving speaker in March 1963 in Washington, when Lewis chaired the Student Violence Coordination Committee. His main protesters were introduced in the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Alabama, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where he was beaten by state troops.
Both Hall and Franklin claimed they could achieve something during a short congressional stay. The vote on the interim federal budget may be the most significant action the winner will take, although he still has fading hopes for further COVID-19 aid laws.
Hall said of his experience at the Atlanta City Council and the Atlanta School Board, saying he will make the most of his limited time to help with COVID-19 and other issues. In his statement, after his victory, he tied his efforts to Lewis, noting that both his father and Lewis worked with Martin Luther King Jr.
“This victory tonight will allow me to continue this fight and work every day of the cycle,” Hall said in a statement.
Franklin and Hall take a similar view on the issues, but Franklin, former president of Morehouse College, now a professor of theology at Emory University, also preached his moral leadership. He promised to support Hall in a concession call.
“While we didn’t want the result we wanted, I’m glad our district will have a voice and a vote in the coming critical days,” Franklin said in a statement sent to the Associated Press.
Franklin raised $ 282,000, of which $ 65,000 was spent on his campaign and Hall $ 194,000.