Progressive Councilwoman, Archibong, Faces Challenger, Hosts Fundraiser

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(APN) ATLANTA — Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong (District 5), the Councilwoman with the most progressive voting record on the current City Council of Atlanta, is hosting an upcoming fundraiser in preparation for her effort to fend off an announced challenger for the District 5 Council seat in this year’s upcoming Municipal Elections, Matt Rinker.

According to the Atlanta Progressive News Atlanta City Council Scorecard for 2013, Archibong has the highest score of 87.5, receiving positive credit for 28 votes out of 32 dating back to 2003.

While Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9) is the Council’s most outspoken among the Council’s few progressive members, Archibong has quietly been a reliable, consistent voice for causes including oversight, transparency, public input, equality, affordable housing, First Amendment rights, civil liberties, and other important causes.

The fundraiser will be held on Saturday, June 01, 2013, from 230pm to 430pm, at a restaurant called Argossy, in East Atlanta Village.

Archibong sees the fundraiser as “a chance to reconnect with the voters.  I can share the vision and platform for the District.  They can talk to me one on one.  So we can have a base of support that will move us forward,” she tells APN.

“I want people to know that I am running – I don’t want there to be any confusion.  I do want to court constituents of District 5 and not take that for granted,” she said.

Archibong’s challenger, Matt Rinker, who is openly homosexual, has been raising money in part by targeting Atlanta’s gay neighborhood, Midtown, including by hosting his own fundraiser, Martinis with Matt, at a bar on Juniper Street in Midtown earlier this year.  

Rinker sent out a press release claiming to have raised more funds in the last quarter than Archibong, although the funding total included in-kind contributions and contributions or loans he personally made to the campaign.

A review of the photographs from the event, and of Rinker’s campaign contributions, does not appear to yield many notable political activists in Atlanta’s LGBTQI community.

Rinker did not return a voicemail left by APN earlier this year, but he has criticized Archibong in interviews with other publications.

In a recent interview with Dustin Brookshire, an Atlanta writer who hosts a WordPress blog, Rinker attacked Archibong for voting against the Beltline.

To be sure, Archibong was one of three Councilmembers who voted against the Beltline Tax Allocation District in 2005.  She has supported the Beltline in many other votes.

However, Archibong, Moore, and CT Martin (District 10) were vindicated when the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled in 2008 in the John Woodham ruling, that indeed, the Beltline TAD was unconstitutional.

Archibong, who is an attorney, has historically voted against numerous legislative schemes that have later been either ruled to be unconstitutional, and that subjected the taxpayers to significant litigation costs.  In other cases, the City’s Law Department has admitted the legislation to be unconstitutional.

For example, Archibong was one of three Councilmembers to oppose the 2005 panhandling ban, which the City’s Law Department later admitted to be unconstitutional due to federal First Amendment rights.

Then in 2008, Archibong was the only Councilmember to oppose the street vending ordinance that was recently thrown out by a Superior Court judge, in a ruling not appealed by the City of Atlanta.

Rinker told Brookshire, “On a more personal level I’m running against Councilwoman Archibong because she voted against the Atlanta Beltline.  Something that was supported by a huge number of families and businesses in our district, and our elected official said no.”

Brookshire asked Rinker, “Did you reach out to Councilwoman when she voted against the Beltline?  If so, what was her response?”

Rinker said, “Ms. Archibong offered the reason that the project didn’t provide enough benefit to District Five.”

However, in an interview with APN, Archibong said she has never met nor spoken with Rinker, and that he certainly never contacted her in 2005 regarding the Beltline TAD.

Rinker also attacked Archibong for opposing the alcohol Sunday sales referendum.  Archibong tells APN that she opposed the referendum because Councilman Alex Wan (District 6) introduced it at the last minute.

Senior advocate Ben Howard and others raised procedural concerns regarding the referendum at the time, and Howard made open records requests that he believes revealed that the referendum did not go through the appropriate process for a municipality to get such a referendum on the ballot.

As far as her voting record, it should be noted that Archibong is neither against bars, of which there are many in District 5, nor the personal liberty to consume alcohol.

In fact, she the only Councilmember to have consistently supported later bar hours.

In 2003, she was one of only three current Councilmembers to oppose rolling back Atlanta’s bar hours to 3am, a reactionary vote by the Council that took place following concerns about increased presence of predominantly Black bars and clubs in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood.  Councilmembers Moore and Howard Shook (District 7) also opposed the 3am time frame, although Shook did so because he thought it was not early enough

Then in 2011, Archibong was one of only three Councilmembers to support returning Atlanta’s bar hours to 4am.  The other two were Kwanza Hall (District 2) and Cleta Winslow (District 4).

Rinker also criticized Archibong for supporting the stadium deal.  “Natalyn Archibong also voted for the new Falcons Stadium after telling constituents the same day that she didn’t have enough information to make a decision.”

Archibong told APN, despite numerous concerns about the stadium deal, that she supported the stadium deal because a small portion of the hotel-motel tax went to the City of Atlanta’s General Fund, and that she could not see losing that revenue.  The hotel-motel tax was up for renewal at the same time that the new stadium deal was being considered.

(END/2013)

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