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 byMaynard Jackson
Succeeded byShirley Franklin
Personal details
William Craig Campbell

1953 (age 65–66)
Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materVanderbilt University (B.A.)
Duke University Law School (J.D.)

William Craig "Bill" 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[edit]

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the youngest of three siblings, Campbell was the first black student to attend an all-white school in Raleigh City Schools at the age of seven. He attended William G. Enloe High School.

His older brother Ralph Cambell Jr. was the first black person to hold statewide office in North Carolina.

Childhood Integration[edit]

In the fall of 1960, Campbell became part of history when his parents enrolled the then 7-year-old boy at Raleigh's all-white Murphey Elementary School; this was the first step in integrating the largely white school Raleigh City School System. In 2010 he recalled this time while talking to WRAL NEWS over the phone. “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…” Campbell's parents also tried to enroll Williams older brother Ralph, who is a former state auditor, and their sister at the time; Though only William the youngest, was approved.[3]


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

Mayor of Atlanta[edit]

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. 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". It would be a decade before another African-American politician - Barack Obama - would show similar public potential.[4]

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 criticised for deploying anti-Black racist messaging in an attempt to deflect criticism of his record as mayor.[5] Campbell was succeeded by Shirley Franklin. Following his tenure as mayor, he moved to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where he worked as a practising 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[edit]

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.[6][7]

Involvement with Corporate Water Privatization[edit]

According to the documentary, "Blue Gold: World Water Wars", [8] 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[edit]

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 a $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.[9]

Campbell was released from prison in February 2009 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 with substance 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.[9]

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


  1. ^ a b Florida Bar
  2. ^ Atlanta Mayor Wins Runoff and 2d Term - New York Times
  3. ^ WRAL (September 6, 2010). "50 years later, man recalls entering Raleigh's all-white schools ::". Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ - Embattled Atlanta mayor raises racial tension - October 9, 2000 Archived January 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Empowerment zones: Boondoggle or aid to poor?", Atlanta Business Chronicle, November 6, 2000
  7. ^ Scott Henry, "Federal grants go to groups with shaky past", Creative Loafing, September 26, 2007
  8. ^ Video on YouTube
  9. ^ 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.

External links[edit]

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