Will Atlanta elect 1st Asian-American, openly gay city council president?

Will Atlanta elect 1st Asian-American, openly gay city council president?
Alex Wan (Photo source: Alex Wan for Atlanta)

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan, who led the field of three candidates to earn a spot in the runoff for Atlanta city council president, has been endorsed in the runoff by U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

“Atlanta stands at a crossroads of progress and preservation,” Lewis says. “We must continue to reinforce our beloved city’s global role as a capital of innovation and opportunity, while also preserving its rich history. This also means ensuring it remains affordable, accessible and safe for both its longtime residents who work every day to make it the City we love and for the everyone who wants to join us here. Alex Wan has the inclusive vision Atlanta needs to navigate this crucial time in our history and continue the progress my fellow citizens and I have been working decades to achieve.”

In the general election, Congressman Lewis endorsed longtime Atlanta City Councilmember C.T. Martin. He now joins Martin in endorsing Wan.

“I am honored to have earned the endorsement of this civil rights leader,” Wan says. “Rep. Lewis not only represents living history, but continues his important work. I am humbled by his decades of tireless service. I take strength from that as I continue to build bridges with, for and between Atlanta’s many communities.”

In this race Wan has been endorsed by:
· The Buckhead Coalition,
· RPAC (which represents both the Atlanta Board of Realtors and Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors),
· Georgia Equality,
· Georgia Log Cabin Republicans,
· Georgia Stonewall Democrats,
· The Victory Fund, and
· A broad array of community, business and political leaders, now including longtime Atlanta Councilmember Martin and U.S. Rep. Lewis.

Wan also received the Committee for a Better Atlanta’s highest possible ranking, “Excellent.” His score of 96 out of 100 was the highest in the field in the Council President’s race. In fact, Wan is one of the two top scorers of all candidates (who participated) across all current city political races.

“Nobody can represent the city of Atlanta without representing all its citizens,” Wan says, “and I’m here to advocate for all communities. I ask for the continuing support of citizens from all corners of Atlanta so we can finish the race we started. Let’s cross the finish line together when the runoff vote takes place Tuesday, Dec. 5, so I can further mobilize Council to move Atlanta forward.”

Wan was first elected to the City Council District 6 post in 2009 and easily earned a second term in 2013 with 76 percent of the vote, both times garnering a broad base of support. He made it into the runoff with 38 percent of the vote; his closest opponent garnered 35 percent. No novice to runoffs, Wan’s first Council run was a six-way race, which went to a runoff which he won with 60 percent of the vote.

Throughout his campaign Wan has promised to continue championing issues ranging from transportation/transit and infrastructure to quality-of-life-disparities, doubling down on tough economic oversight and further leaning into ethics, accountability, and transparency to restore trust in City Hall. He also emphasizes his temperament and leadership style, through which he can respectfully disagree as necessary, but preserving relationships so that collaboration remains an option for future dealings.

He is the first Asian-American and first openly gay man to serve on the Atlanta City Council. He is (currently) a director at Emory University. His résumé includes experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, in addition to higher education.

Raised in Atlanta and a Morningside homeowner for over 20 years, Wan was perhaps best known before his Council win for longtime community involvement, including service on the Invest Atlanta (formerly Atlanta Development Authority) board and founding For the Kid in All of Us, an all-volunteer nonprofit serving children in need. He currently serves on Boards of Directors for the Piedmont Park Conservancy, the Little Five Points Community Improvement District (CID), and the Olmsted Linear Park Association.

He holds a bachelor’s in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, a finance MBA from Wharton Business School, and has completed educational programs at Dartmouth and Harvard.

The Atlanta City Council president is elected citywide, presiding at all Council meetings and voting in the event of a tie. The president of the Council also appoints chairs and members of the various committees. The Council president serves as vice mayor, acting for the mayor in certain instances. The Atlanta City Council President is elected for a four-year term and takes office in January 2018.

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