Skip to main content
Select Source:

Campbell, Bill 1954–

Bill Campbell 1954

Mayor of Atlanta

At a Glance

Bolstered Blacks

Victorious in Mayoral Runoff Election

Faced the Olympic Challenge

Sources

Bill Campbell was elected mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, in November of 1993, at the age of 40, thereby taking the reigns of power for a new generation. A lawyer and longtime city councilman, Campbell won a resounding victory on the basis of both his nonideological pragmatism and his numerous years of loyalty to the previous office holder, civil rights legend Maynard Jackson. As mayor, Campbell has stressed fiscal responsibility, efforts to cut crime, and the need to prepare for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Campbell got an early introduction to politics and public service through his parents. His father, Ralph Campbell, was a janitor who also served as the president of the Raleigh, North Carolina, chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Campbell had his sons Ralph and Bill hand out flyers for the organization in late 1950s. My father taught us a sense of giving back to the community, Campbell recalled in Ebony.

In 1960, seven-year-old Campbell and his brother integrated the Raleigh public schools. The sole black child in the school for several years, young Bill, as well as his family, endured harassment and Ku Klux Klan death threats. It was a defining moment, Campbell related in Ebony. Very violent. The clan threatening us. It was very difficult for my parents but they believed that sacrifices had to be made in order to change a very troubled society.

After completing his secondary education, graduating from high school at the top of his class, Campbell entered Vanderbilt University. He graduated cum laude in 1974, with a degree in history, political science, and sociology. He completed this triple major in just three years. From there, he enrolled in Duke Universitys law school.

Campbell moved to Atlanta after graduating from law school in 1977, and took a job as a junior associate in the law firm of Kilpatrick & Cody. In 1979, he married Sharon Tapscott, an educational administrator. After two years of practice as an attorney, Campbell moved to the U.S. Justice Departments Atlanta office, where he worked as a prosecutor from 1980 to 1981. At the end of this time, Campbell returned to a private law firm.

Beginning his political career in 1981, Campbell won a spot on the Atlanta City Council. From the early 1980s until 1993, he served three consecutive terms, during which he wrote or

At a Glance

Born in 1954 in Raleigh, NC; son of Ralph (a janitor and president of Raleigh National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP]) and June (a secretary and civil rights worker) Campbell; married Sharon Tapscott (a school administrator), 1978; children: Billy, Christina. Education: Vanderbilt University, B.A., 1974; Duke University, J.D., 1977.

Kilpatrick & Cody (law firm), attorney, 197880; U.S. Department of Justice, prosecutor, 198081; member of Atlanta City Council, 198193; attorney, 198193; partner with Ellis, Funk, Goldberg, Labovitz & Campbell (law firm); mayor of Atlanta, 1994.

Addresses: Office Office of the Mayor, City Hall, 55 Trinity Avenue SW, Atlanta, GA 30335.

cosponsored more than 300 pieces of legislation. He was perhaps best known for a package of ethics laws designed to regulate the city government of Atlanta, including provisions for disclosure and substantial penalties for violation of the code.

Bolstered Blacks

By 1986 Campbell had begun winning national notice as a rising young black city councilman, as a New Republic writer put it. Espousing a philosophy of responsibility to local constituents, Campbell told the magazine, candidates who have shown the community that they are going to pay attention to the nitty-gritty local issuesgetting the garbage picked up, seeing that the police are therewill be the ones who succeed in the 1980s and 1990s. Taking his place among a new generation of black politicians, Campbell stated that he saw himself as a typical urban, professional, middle-class voter, who demanded more of a candidate for public office than simply a record of participation in the 1960s struggle for civil rights.

In addition to his work as a lawyer and his political career, Campbell took part in volunteer activities to bolster the black community. In 1989 he began to coach his son Billy, born in 1984, in basketball. I not only get an opportunity to interact with him, but also serve as a role model for a lot of young kids in the program, he pointed out in Ebony. In addition, Campbell took part in 100 Black Men, Inc., helping as this group adopted 36 members of an eighth grade class and supported them through high school into college. The students were provided male role models, academic tutoring, and tuition money. The black middle class and black professionals have to assume a tremendous obligation, Campbell remarked in Newsweek.

Victorious in Mayoral Runoff Election

By 1993 Campbell had become a partner at the Atlanta law firm of Ellis, Funk, Goldberg, Labovitz & Campbell, and he served as floor leader of the city council under then-Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson. Campbell also chaired the councils Human Resources Committee. When Jacksons health began to wane, Campbell began to be mentioned as a possible mayoral candidate. With Atlanta enmeshed in preparations for the 1996 Olympics, which the city had won the right to host in 1992, concern about the management of this enormous undertaking became a principal political issue.

After Jackson did decide to step down from his post in June of 1993, Campbell threw his hat into the ring for the mayors office. Fellow city council member Myrtle Davis and politician and former mayoral candidate Michael Lomax, as well as a number of other less well known candidates, also decided to run. The race marked a transition in power from the old guard of the civil rights movement to a new generation.

Despite the importance of the upcoming Olympics, the race for mayor soon came to focus on issues of crime, corruption, and government efficiency. By mid-October Campbell had attained a strong lead in the race. Waking at 6:00 a.m. every morning to shake hands, meet voters, and talk about his ideas, Campbell put in 18-hour days visiting churches, community organizations, and business groups.

In his campaign, Campbell worked to appeal to both poor blacks and wealthy whites, and benefited from the endorsement of outgoing Mayor Jackson. Campbell called for a reorganization of the Atlanta police department, which would put more officers in close touch with the community, as a method of curtailing crime. (Statistics indicated that Atlanta had the highest rate of violent crime per capita in the country.) In addition, the mayoral candidate tried to tie the Olympics effort to other issues facing Atlanta. No one is giving up on Atlanta, and thats what distinguishes us from a lot of other cities, he declared in the New York Times. I think all of us are somewhat disappointed the city has not moved faster to prepare for the Olympics. But we still have the opportunity to use the Olympics to solve some of our problems, and none of the others have that opportunity.

Faced the Olympic Challenge

In an effort to appeal to the business community, Campbell pledged that he would not levy new taxes. Rather than run on an ideological platform, he struck a pragmatic note. Weve fashioned a blueprint for running the city of Atlanta that has better fiscal management, tighter operational efficiencies, total quality management, he explained in U.S. News and World Report. Were looking at the buzzwords that have made the business community more profitable. Atlanta is a business.

The election for mayor, which by then included 12 nonpartisan candidates, took place on November 2, 1993. Campbell won 49 percent of the vote, just shy of the 50 percent needed to win the office outright. Because he had not gained a strict majority of the votes, a runoff election between Campbell and his closest competitor, Michael Lomax, was scheduled. Despite the decorum and high tone of the general election campaign, the runoff campaign quickly degenerated into a political brawl when shady allegations of bribery against Campbell surfaced.

Campbell angrily denied any wrongdoing and submitted to a polygraph test to prove that he was telling the truth. Accusations and counter-accusations were soon flying. Nevertheless, Campbell retained his commanding lead and overwhelmingly won election to the mayors office on November 23, 1993. I never would have imagined that we would have the mandate we had tonight, he commented in the New York Times after winning 73 percent of the vote.

Campbell took office in January of 1994. Our future legacy must be that we made Atlanta a safer city, that we empowered and involved the community in the fight to beat back the demons of crime and to restore safety and confidence to our people, he proclaimed at his inauguration, as reported in Jet. Campbell promised the citizens of Atlanta a spirit of renewal and regeneration, and a willingness to experiment, according to Jet. Let us be willing to try brave new things and, indeed, brave old things if it will improve our city, he urged.

During his first year in office, Campbell emphasized a number of tasks. He moved forcefully to implement community policing, and appointed the first female police chief of a major American city. After a drive-by shooting in May of 1994, he announced the installation of mini-police precincts in Atlantas housing projects. The mayor also turned his attention to education. I want to make certain that the school system is improved because fundamentally almost everything points back to the educational system, and we have a real crisis, not in terms of funding, but results, he told Jet. He planned, over the four-year course of his term, to establish partnerships between the city and historically black colleges. He also hoped to encourage young people to get involved in community service.

Campbell took aggressive steps to reduce and control the costs of Atlantas city government. As part of this effort, he moved to kill pay raises for the citys police officers in the spring of 1994, setting off controversy with the police union. In addition, Campbell entered into negotiations with television network magnate Ted Turner in order to keep Turners Atlanta Hawks baseball team playing downtown at the Omni Arena, despite the need for an upgrading of the facility.

Continuing with the vast number of projects to be undertaken for the Olympics, Campbell put forth a $150 million plan to make repairs to Atlantas infrastructure before the big event. Although he failed to pass this plan in his first attempt, the issue arose again just months later. We have to use the Olympics as leverage to reshape our city. And we can do that. We can rebuild our infrastructure. We can rebuild our housing stock, the mayor explained in Jet. Atlanta has a great challenge, but its also a great opportunity. Leading the city as it faces the task of hosting the 1996 Olympics, Campbell shone as one of the bright lights of a new generation of Southern black politicians. With his impressive credentials, pragmatism, and emphasis on shrewd management, Campbell personifies one aspect of the future of the New South.

Sources

Atlanta Constitution, May 3, 1994, section C, p. 4; May 21, 1994, section C, p. 1; May 25, 1994, section A, p. 1; May 28, 1994, section B, p. 4.

Business Atlanta, February 1993, section 1, p. 14.

Jet, January 24, 1994, p. 22.

Ebony, February 1994, p. 96.

New Republic, November 24, 1986.

Newsweek, May 18, 1992.

New York Times, October 15, 1993; November 18, 1993, section A, p. 16; November 25, 1993, section A, p. 16.

USA Today, November 18, 1993, p. 3A.

U.S. News & World Report, November 1, 1993.

Elizabeth Rourke

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Campbell, Bill 1954–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Campbell, Bill 1954–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/campbell-bill-1954

"Campbell, Bill 1954–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved June 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/campbell-bill-1954

Campbell, Bill 1959–

CAMPBELL, Bill 1959–

(Billy Campbell, William Campbell, William O. Campbell)

PERSONAL

Full name, William Oliver Campbell; born July 7, 1959, in Charlottesville, VA. Education: Studied illustration at the American Academy of Arts in Chicago; later trained at the Tedd Liss Studio for Performing Arts, the Players Workshop of Second City in Chicago, and with Howard Fine in Los Angeles. Avocational Interests: Running, biking.

Addresses:

Agent—ICM, 8942 Whilre Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Manager—Imparato Fay Management, 1122 S. Roxbury Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90035.

Career:

Actor and producer.

Awards, Honors:

L.A. Ovation Award, best lead actor in a play, 1997, for Forintbras; TV Guide Award nomination, favorite actor in a new series, People's Choice Award, favorite male performer in a new television series, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a TV series—drama, 2000, all for Once and Again; Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, miniseries, or motion picture made for television, 2002, for Further Tales of the City.

CREDITS

Film Appearances:

Young man, Call From Space, 1989.

Tommy Trehearn, Checkered Flag, 1990.

Cliff Secord, The Rocketeer, Buena Vista/Walt Disney, 1991.

Quincey P. Morris, Bram Stoker's Dracula (also known as Dracula), Columbia, 1992.

Shep, The Night We Never Met, 1993.

Lieutenant Pitzer, Gettysburg, New Line Cinema, 1993.

Chet, Dickwad, 1994.

Marvin, Under the Hula Moon, Trident Releasing, 1995.

Himself, Past into Present, 1996.

Steve Hunter, Lover's Knot, Astra, 1996.

Harrison, Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo (also known as Jungle Book 2: Mowgli and Baloo And Rudyard Kipling's The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo), Sony/TriStar, 1997.

Robert, Last Chance Love (also known as Hong Kong—Eine Liebe fuers Leben), Lau Film International, 1998.

Miles Keogh, The Brylcreem Boys, BMG Video, 1998.

Streete Wilder, The Rising Place, Warner Bros., 2001.

(As Billy Campbell) Mitch Hiller, Enough, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2002.

Himself, More Than Enough, 2003.

(As Billy Campbell) Major General George Pickett, Gods and Generals, Warner Bros., 2003.

Television Appearances; Series:

(As William Campbell) Luke Fuller, Dynasty, ABC, 1984–85.

(As William Campbell) Detective Joey Indelli, Crime Story, NBC, 1986.

Walter Tatum, Moon over Miami, ABC, 1993.

(As Billy Campbell) Rick Sammler, Once and Again, ABC, 1999—.

Owen, Rocky Point, The WB, 2005.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Lieutenant Gaines, Dream West, CBS, 1986.

(As William Campbell) Dr. Jon Fielding, Tales of the City (also known as Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City), Showtime, 1993.

(As William Campbell) Dr. Jon Fielding, More Tales of the City (also known as Armistead Maupin's More Tales of the City), Showtime, 1998.

Moses, In the Beginning, NBC, 2000.

Dr. Jon Philip Fielding, Further Tales of the City (also known as Armistead Maupin's Further Tales of the City), Showtime, 2001.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Dwayne, First Steps, CBS, 1985.

Delbert Mosley, Out There, Showtime, 1995.

Lieutenant John Barton, The Cold Equations, Sci–Fi Channel, 1996.

Menno, Menno's Mind (also known as Power.com), The Movie Channel, 1996.

Automatic Avenue, 1997.

John Macy, Monday after the Miracle, CBS, 1998.

Commander Clay Jarvis, Max Q (also known as Max Q: Emergency Landing), 1998.

(As Billy Campbell) Ted Bundy, The Stranger beside Me (also known as Ann Rule Presents: The Stranger beside Me), USA Network, 2003.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Host, Rocketeer: Excitement in the Air (documentary), 1991.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, ABC, 1993.

Presenter, The 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awads, ABC, 2000.

Presenter, The 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2001.

Himself, CMT 40 Greatest Women of Country Music, CMT, 2002.

Himself, Intimate Portrait: Jennifer Lopez (documentary), Lifetime, 2002.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

Detective Joey Indeli, Crime Story, NBC, 1986.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Gordan, "The Wheel of Fortune," The Rookies, 1973.

(As William Campbell) Lyle, "Best Man," Family Ties, NBC, 1982.

(As William O. Campbell) Captain Thaduin Okona, "The Outrageous Okona," Star Trek: The Next Generation, UPN, 1988.

Luke, "A Year in the Life," The Naked Truth, NBC, 1997.

Dr. Clint Webber, "The Perfect Guy," Frasier, NBC, 1998.

John Slattery, "The Regulator," Dead Man's Gun, Showtime, 1999.

Himself, "Cannes Festival 2002," Leute heute, 2002.

The View, ABC, 2002, 2003.

Tom Bartos, "Goodbye," The Practice, ABC, 2003.

Jordan Collier, "Becoming," The 4400, USA Network and Sky, 2004.

(As Billy Campbell) Jordan Collier, "Trial by Fire," The 4400, USA Network and Sky, 2004.

(As Billy Campbell) Jordan Collier, "White Light," The 4400, USA Network and Sky 2004.

Ron Polikoff, "Doubt," Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order: SVU), NBC, 2004.

Also appeared in Hotel, ABC.

Television Work; Movies:

Co–executive producer, The Cold Equations, Sci–Fi Channel, 1996.

Stage Appearances:

Titus Andronicus, Globe Playhouse, Los Angeles, 1977–78.

Dungeon Master, 1981.

Chantecleer, 47th Street Theatre, 1981.

Laertes, Hamlet, Criterion Center Stage Right, New York City, 1992.

Fortinbras, Los Angeles, 1997.

Appeared in a high school production of The Man Who Came to Dinner, 1979; as Petruchio, The Taming of the Shrew, Southern California Renaissance Faire.

OTHER SOURCES

Periodicals:

People Weekly, July 15, 1991, p. 47.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Campbell, Bill 1959–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Campbell, Bill 1959–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/campbell-bill-1959

"Campbell, Bill 1959–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved June 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/campbell-bill-1959