South Fulton is 92 percent Black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“There is a myth that Black people are somehow more homophobic than white people,” Kamau told Project Q Atlanta. “I think [becoming mayor] will just send this signal about how progressive South Fulton actually is and what our priorities really are.”
Kamau, 44, is a democratic socialist who was a delegate for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He was also an organizer for the Atlanta chapter of Black Lives Matter and a field organizer for the Georgia House Democratic Caucus.
South Fulton incorporated in 2017 and became Georgia’s eighth-largest city with 99,000 people. The following year, Kamau handily won the District 6 seat on the city council.
On city council, Kamau amended a nondiscrimination resolution to include sexual orientation and gender identity. As mayor, he would support a broader nondiscrimination ordinance with an enforcement mechanism like the ones passed by other cities across the state.
“But that honestly has not been an issue in South Fulton,” he said.
Kamau: Mayor undermined progressive policies
Kamau said he’s running for mayor because the incumbent Bill Edwards “lacks a progressive vision for the city.”
“A lot of the progressive policies and legislation I was trying to implement were being undermined by [Edwards],” Kamau said. “He vetoed our Election Day holiday, he undermined efforts to do economic development on Old National [Highway], which is my district.”
The council overrode Edwards’ veto on making Election Day a holiday for city workers. In addition, Kamau created an event called the Electoral College to teach citizens how government works, and he co-sponsored legislation raising the minimum wage to $15.
“I also created a blighted property fund to knock down blighted and abandoned homes that had been standing for decades,” he said.
Edwards disputed Kamau’s criticism and touted his own 14 years on the Fulton County Commission and 13 years as president of the Old National Merchant’s Association.
“I have not ever undermined a progressive piece of policy or legislation,” he told Project Q. “Why would I undermine any economic development that would come to Old National if it made sense?”
“Most of my political career has been devoted to Old National Highway,” he added.
Edwards and Kamau face civic activist Jewel Johnson and educator Sonia Francis Rolle in the mayoral race.
LGBTQ mayors across the state
Kamau is one of at least four LGBTQ candidates running for mayor in cities across Georgia in November. Atlanta City Councilmember Antonio Brown announced his campaign for mayor in June. Brian Mock is running unopposed in Chamblee, and political pundit Robin Biro is running for mayor of Tucker.
Bill Grant in Canton, Joseph Geierman in Doraville, Liz Ordiales in Hiawassee and Melanie Hammett in Pine Lake are all sitting LGBTQ mayors. Ordiales is the only one of them up for re-election in November, and she is running unopposed.