Gay civic activist launches campaign for Atlanta City Council

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A gay business consultant and real estate agent jumped into a crowded race to unseat an incumbent on the Atlanta City Council. 

Jereme Sharpe joins an expanding field of challengers hoping to oust incumbent Councilmember Michael Julian Bond from the Post 1 At-Large seat on the council. 

“I have the experience when it comes to organizing our neighborhoods and starting to lead us on the right track to a better future,” Sharpe told Project Q Atlanta.

Sharpe, 31, was born in Florida and grew up in Gwinnett County. The downtown Atlanta resident is a former board member of the Atlanta Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiative. He’s now a licensed real estate agent and launched the Urbane Foundation, a consulting firm focused on alternative transportation, affordable housing and better business.

“So there were a lot of things I was already working on and I said hey this fits with what we need in the City of Atlanta and I’m going to run,” Sharpe said.

He was also motivated to jump into the council race after Evanston, Ill., became the first city in U.S. history to offer reparations to Black residents in March.

“I said wait a minute, you were able to get reparations at the city level? That’s when the light switch flipped on,” he said. “Reparations can be done on a local level and I’m gonna do it.”

If elected, Sharpe wants to improve public transportation, restructure the city’s housing processes and create better jobs with livable wages.

“If we can really fix those or at least get them in better shape or organized as they should be, we’ll be able to alleviate a lot of the other issues we have in our city,” he said.

Those issues include HOPWA, the city’s long-troubled federal housing program for low-income people with HIV. The HOPWA program is managed by Atlanta’s Department of Grants & Community Development. Sharpe would shift its management to the Atlanta Housing Authority and hire a HOPWA director.

“To my understanding, the [grant] money is there,” he said. “It’s the processes that need to be improved upon, and right now – yesterday.”

Sharpe would continue LGBTQ representation on the council. City Council member Antonio Brown became the first Black LGBTQ member of the council in 2019, but he is running for mayor instead of seeking a full term in the District 3 post.

“The LGBT community represents what Atlanta is,” Sharpe said. “It’s a part of Atlanta’s fabric, a part of Atlanta’s ethos. Representation is very much needed at all levels — at council levels, at neighborhood groups and across the city.”

Sharpe and Bond are joined in the council race by gay attorney Brandon Goldberg, educator Alfred Brooks and former Atlanta Board of Ethics member Todd Gray.

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

Qualifying for Atlanta’s municipal’s races is in August and the elections are in November.

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

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