Gay attorney jumps into crowded Atlanta City Council race

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Brandon Goldberg is stepping up for his first run for public office after years of Democratic Party activism.

The gay attorney, 35, joined a growing field of challengers hoping to oust incumbent Councilmember Michael Julian Bond from the Post 1 At-Large seat on the Atlanta City Council.

A resident of Midtown Goldberg is making diversity a top priority of his campaign.

“If you look at the runoff map from the 2017 mayoral race, you see our city is very divided,” he told Project Q Atlanta. “We need to bring people together who disagree and find solutions that are sustainable because they have buy-in.”

Goldberg is an attorney with Kennesaw-based medical device company CryoLife. He formed campaign advisory committees on issues he wants to focus on: diversity, public safety, housing, COVID-19 economic recovery and transportation.

Public safety is already center stage during the election cycle, as the city faces a surge in crime amid continuing calls to reform policing in the wake of racial reckoning protests last year. Goldberg said police officers should serve in the areas where they live so there’s a familiarity with the community.

We also need to make sure police are responding to issues that require a police response,” Goldberg said. “A zoning issue or mental health situation should not have a police response.”

“As President Obama and President Biden have said, the vast majority of police are looking to do a good job and we should empower them in a way that protects the community and protects everyone,” he added.

He was one of 48 LGBTQ people named to the Biden campaign’s Georgia LGBTQ Leadership Council in 2020.

Goldberg also held leadership positions with a number of religious, political, legal and ethnic organizations. He is chair of the Mid-Fulton Democrats, programming co-chair for Red Clay Democrats, and a member of the local boards of American Jewish Committee and Young Democrats.

He was formerly a delegate to the 2018 Democratic Party State Convention, president of the Stonewall Bar Association of Georgia and on the steering committee of the Atlanta Black Jewish Coalition.

Goldberg wants to put his experience with those groups to use as a member of the council.

“What I would do in office is exactly what I’m doing with these communities, which is identify folks in different organizations and different perspectives and bring them in,” he said. “You have to have seats at the table for everyone that’s impacted.”

Jereme Sharpe is running for the Post 1 At-Large seat on the Atlanta City Council. (Photo courtesy Jereme Sharpe)

Potentially historic year for LGBTQ candidates

Goldberg would continue LGBTQ representation on the council that reaches back more than 20 years. City Council member Antonio Brown became the most recent LGBTQ member – and its first Black LGBTQ one – in 2019. But he is running for mayor instead of seeking a full term in the District 3 post.

The council has never had more than two LGBTQ members at the same time. But that number could reach six after this year’s elections. Goldberg said it’s about time.

“Having one [LGBTQ] representative on and off and having a lot of candidates that were not successful speaks to the fact that there’s still that barrier to get past in proper representation in government,” he said. “There’s just no substitute for having a vote or potentially multiple votes.”

Goldberg and Bond are joined in the Post 1 At-Large race by gay business consultant Jereme Sharpe, educator Alfred Brooks and former Atlanta Board of Ethics member Todd Gray. If Sharpe or Goldberg win, they’ll become just the second openly LGBTQ person elected to a citywide position in Atlanta. Cathy Woolard was the first.

Other LGBTQ candidates running for Atlanta City Council include teacher Kelly-Jeanne Lee in District 1, project manager Larry Carter in District 4, community activist Liliana Bakhtiari in District 5, community organizer Devin Barrington-Ward in District 9 and Mike Russell, who is running for council president.

Qualifying for the races is in August. The elections are in November.

Woolard became the first LGBTQ elected official in Georgia in 1997 when elected to Atlanta City Council in 1997. In 2002, she took office as the first woman and first LGBTQ person to serve as City Council president. Anne Fauver, a lesbian, replaced Woolard in the District 6 council seat in 2002. Woolard resigned as council president in 2004 to launch a failed bid for Congress.

Fauver served two terms. Alex Wan continued LGBTQ representation on the council when he took the District 6 seat in 2010. He served two terms before an unsuccessful run for council president in 2017. The council had no LGBTQ members for the first time in 20 years before Brown won a special election for the District 3 seat in 2019.

This story is made possible by Google News Initiative’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund.

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