Bill Campbell (mayor)

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Bill Campbell
Bill Campbell 2012.jpg
Campbell in 2012
57th Mayor of Atlanta
In office
January 1994 – January 7, 2002
Preceded by Maynard Jackson
Succeeded by Shirley Franklin
Personal details
William Craig Campbell

1953 (age 66–67)
Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Vanderbilt University ( BA)
Duke University ( JD)

William Craig Campbell [1] (born 1953) is an American politician, who served as the 57th Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia from January 1994–January 2002. [2] He was the third African-American mayor in the city's history.

Early life

On September 8, 1960 Bill Campbell was enrolled in Murphey Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina [3] at the age of seven, thus becoming the first black student to attend an all-white school in Raleigh City Schools. He later recalled, "My family prepared me by simply saying this. 'This is important, and you’re going to have to do it. You’re going to have to endure it'." [4] Campbell's parents also tried to enroll Campbell's older brother, Ralph, and his older sister but he was the only one approved for entry. [4] Campbell was accepted by his teacher and immediate classmates, but his presence upset some of the parents of other students. Some of the older students bullied him, and his parents received bomb threats. [5] Campbell remained the only black student at Murphey for five years. [4] He later graduated from William G. Enloe High School. [6]


Campbell received a B.A. from Vanderbilt University, and a J.D. from Duke University Law School. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi.

Mayor of Atlanta

Campbell was heartily endorsed by outgoing mayor Maynard Jackson, and won the 1993 election. During his first term, his major accomplishments included overhauling the city's finance department, passing a major bond issue to pay for infrastructure improvements for the 1996 Olympics, rebuilding the public housing system, and modernizing the legal, public works, and water departments. Violent crime rates also dropped significantly during his tenure. According to Douglas A. Blackmon, Campbell was seen as a "post–civil rights movement black politician who would leverage the economic rebirth of Atlanta, build a bridge to white voters, and become a U.S. senator or a Georgia governor". [7]

Campbell subsequently fell into disfavour during his second term, despite defeating then-president of the Atlanta City Council, Marvin S. Arrington, Sr.. The 1997 race was known for its emphasis on the racial overtones often not publicly seen in the African-American community, with Campbell being the lighter-skinned candidate and Arrington the darker complexioned. Campbell would later be criticized for deploying anti-Black racist messaging in an attempt to deflect criticism of his record as mayor. [8] Campbell was succeeded by Shirley Franklin. Following his tenure as mayor, he moved to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where he worked as a practicing attorney. He was disbarred by order of the Supreme Court of Florida as a result of his tax evasion conviction. [1]

Failure of Atlanta Empowerment Zone

In November 1994, the Atlanta Empowerment Zone was established, a 10-year, $250 million federal program to revitalise Atlanta's 34 poorest neighbourhoods including the Bluff. Scathing reports from both the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs revealed corruption, waste, bureaucratic incompetence, and specifically called out interference by mayor Campbell. [9] [10]

Involvement with Corporate Water Privatization

According to the documentary, " Blue Gold: World Water Wars", [11] Mayor Campbell accepted a $6,900 campaign contribution and a trip to Paris from water privatization company Suez even though he was "not running for office."

Tax Evasion Conviction

In August 2004 Campbell retained high-profile attorney Billy Martin to defend him against several indictments by a federal grand jury on racketeering, bribery, and wire fraud. The charges came from a five-year federal investigation into possible corruption during his time as Mayor of Atlanta. Campbell was later acquitted on all charges relating to the indictments; although on March 10, 2006, a federal jury convicted him on three counts of tax evasion. He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story to 30 months in prison for the three counts on tax evasion. He was also ordered to serve a year on probation, pay $6,000, and pay more than $60,000 in back taxes. On August 21, 2006 he reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, Florida. [12]

Campbell was released from prison in December 2007 after receiving a shortened sentence by enrolling in a drug treatment program. This came just a short time after he told a federal judge that he was not struggling with a drug abuse problem. It was reported that the New York Times that “Prison officials said inmates must offer documentation of prior substance abuse to enter the treatment program, but for privacy reasons they said they could not disclose whether Mr.Campbell submitted such proof.” Mr. Campbell statements to the judge wasn't used to determine whether or not he could enter the program. [12]

After leaving prison he lived in a halfway house until October 21, 2008.


  1. ^ a b |The Florida Bar
  2. ^ Atlanta Mayor Wins Runoff and 2d Term - New York Times
  3. ^ Drescher 2000, p. xx.
  4. ^ a b c "50 years later, man recalls entering Raleigh's all-white schools". WRAL-TV. Capitol Broadcasting Company. September 6, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  5. ^ Drescher 2000, pp. xx–xxi.
  6. ^ "A Salute to Wake County Trailblazers". Wake County Public School System. March 16, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  7. ^ Blackmon, Douglas A. (March 5, 2015). "Bill Campbell: He could have been the one". Atlanta Magazine.
  8. ^ - Embattled Atlanta mayor raises racial tension - October 9, 2000 Archived January 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Empowerment zones: Boondoggle or aid to poor?", Atlanta Business Chronicle, November 6, 2000
  10. ^ Scott Henry, "Federal grants go to groups with shaky past", Creative Loafing, September 26, 2007
  11. ^ Video on YouTube
  12. ^ a b Dewan, Shaila (March 5, 2008). "Ex-Mayor of Atlanta Enrolled in Prison Drug Program After Denial of a Problem". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved September 18, 2016.

Works cited

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Maynard Jackson
Mayor of Atlanta
January 1994 – January 2002
Succeeded by
Shirley Franklin