Liliana Bakhtiari to Re-Challenge Councilwoman Archibong in 2021
(APN) ATLANTA — Progressive activist Liliana Bakhtiari will run again for Atlanta City Council District 5 in the 2021 City of Atlanta Municipal Elections.
The District 5 seat, covering East Atlanta, is currently held by Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong.
Over the last four years, since Bakhtiari’s first run for District 5 in 2017, she has continued her grassroots work in the community and says she has learned much more about the problems facing Atlanta.
Incumbent Natalyn Archibong has been one of the most progressive members of the Atlanta City Council, based on Atlanta Progressive News’s Atlanta City Council Scorecard, based on over one hundred votes.
However, she has fallen to second place, behind Councilman Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large); and Archibong has spent the last four years supporting efforts to limit public comment at Atlanta City Council.
Archibong supported a harmful ordinance that has limited public comment delegations from sixteen minutes to ten minutes. “I don’t see why anyone needs to speak to us for more than ten minutes,” Archibong said at the time.
Archibong supported the move to cut public comment delegations shortly after the controversial Gulch Redevelopment debate, where critics of the administration used “time donations” of public comment time to allow certain speakers to speak for up to sixteen minutes.
Archibong then supported two rounds of cuts to speaking time for former elected officials and current elected officials from other bodies.
Archibong then supported a resolution, during COVID-19, limiting people’s ability to call in to record public comments on a voicemail, to only a two hour window on the day before the meeting.
This resolution occurred after Councilman Antonio Brown (District 3) had encouraged critics of the Atlanta Police Department to leave public comment voicemails; and hundreds of voicemails were received.
As part of that resolution, Archibong encouraged all seven Committee Chairs to limit public comments to only matters on the agenda of the committee – not even matters under the purview of the committee.
“I don’t agree with them,” Bakhtiari said of Archibong’s votes.
“I think being a public servant is about hearing the public’s voice. How can you make decisions about what’s best for the community without hearing what they have to say?” Bakhtiari told Atlanta Progressive News.
“How can you do that if you’re busy limiting their time and making efforts to silence them?” Bakhtiari said.
“When you limit your interaction with the public, you dehumanize the public, and then your ability to be a true public servant is compromised,” she said.
Following Bakhtiari’s narrow defeat to Archibong in 2017, Bakhtiari continued her progressive work in the community.
In 2018, she volunteered for Stacey Abrams’s campaign for Governor of Georgia.
She purchased a bus that she used to drive all over the state to educate and mobilize voters.
“When the Republicans came out and had the deportation bus, that one Republican candidate [Michael Williams] was talking about immigrants and refugees,” Bakhtiari said.
“I said, why don’t we do something like that with a message of hope? We bought a school bus and called it the Georgia for all Georgians Bus and painted a message of the diversity of Georgia on one side and the history of voting on the other,” she said.
“We took it to the Pride Parade and we took it around the state to do voter education workshops,” she said.
“We’re in the process of building it out into a mobile advocacy unit to take it to underserved areas around the state and around the city.”
Since the onset of COVID-19, Bakhtiari has been working in her community doing food and supply drives for seniors.
Partners for Home, the lead organization for the City of Atlanta Continuum of Care, hired Bakhtiari to be their Homeless Emergency Response Coordinator.
Bakhtiari had a two-month contract with Partners for Home to establish a “Healthy Hotel” to serve many of Atlanta’s residents currently experiencing homelessness.
“Which was to help people who were unsheltered and had tested negative for COVID, but were high risk because they had underlying conditions,” she said.
“My reasons for running are the same as before, but everything is amplified, we still have a housing crisis, we still have unsheltered people on the street,” she said.
“We need an elected official who’s going to be present,” she said. “It’s time for a new generation of leadership.”
“If she runs, she runs. If she doesn’t she doesn’t,” Bakhtiari said of Archibong. “I’m running for the district.”
MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS TAKING SHAPE
Municipal Elections for 2021 are already taking shape. In addition to Bakhtiari’s announcement, at least three additional candidates are challenging incumbents.
Brandon Cory Goldberg is challenging Councilman Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large).
APN sent a text message to Courtney English, who ran against Bond in 2017, to see if he was running again, but Mr. English did not respond.
In District 3, APN’s News Editor–the present writer–is running for the District 3 seat, challenging incumbent Antonio Brown.
Former Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Member Byron Amos has also announced that he is running again for District 3.
Councilman Brown won in a 2019 Special Election after Ivory Lee Young, Jr., passed away.
Brown is facing federal criminal charges for falsely claiming identity theft for his purchase of two luxury vehicles and for personal loans that he took out and used on plane tickets in his name and other expenses.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2020)