Gay man chal­lenges in­cum­bent in At­lanta City Coun­cil race

Matt Rinker seeks to un­seat three-term coun­cil mem­ber Natalyn Archi­bong

GA Voice - - News - By Dyana Bagby dbagby@the­

Matt Rinker will chal­lenge in­cum­bent Natalyn Archi­bong for the District 5 seat on the At­lanta City Coun­cil. If elected, he would be­come the sec­ond openly gay man to serve on the coun­cil.

All City Coun­cil seats as well as the mayor’s post are up for elec­tion this year on Nov. 5. Archi­bong, a bank­ruptcy at­tor­ney, con­firmed she is seek­ing re-elec­tion for a fourth term.

Rinker, 35, of East At­lanta, said Feb. 5 he is chal­leng­ing Archi­bong be­cause he feels she has not done a good enough job to elim­i­nate crime in the District 5 neigh­bor­hoods in­clud­ing East At­lanta, Cab­bage­town, East Lake, Kirk­wood and Reynold­stown.

“Our neigh­bor­hoods are no safer for Ms. Archi­bong’s three terms on coun­cil — in fact by most statis­tics crime is up. Ag­gra­vated as­sault is up. Auto thefts are up. Bur­glary is up. Rob­bery and lar­ceny are both up in our neigh­bor­hoods,” Rinker said.

“Too many of our streets are not a safe place for our kids to play. Too many of our se­niors don’t feel safe in their homes. Too many homeowners have to pay large in­surance pre­mi­ums be­cause of the zip code we chose to call home,” he said.

Archi­bong said in an in­ter­view she dis­agrees with Rinker’s statis­tics that crime is higher in District 5. With bound­aries of the district dif­fer­ent than last year, she said she didn’t be­lieve there was a way for Rinker to ac­cu­rately por­tray crime rates.

“I don’t think that in­for­ma­tion was well pre­sented,” she said. “The bound­aries of the district have changed. We picked up Boule­vard for in­stance. I don’t know how he came up with what he did.”

Archi­bong said she un­der­stands that pub­lic safety is a top con­cern for the peo­ple liv­ing in District 5.

“We have been work­ing on crime and will con­tinue to do so as a top pri­or­ity” if re-elected, she said. Archi­bong is the only coun­cil mem­ber to have a full-time pub­lic safety li­ai­son.

“Pub­lic safety is some­thing we do really well,” she said.

Rinker’s first run for pub­lic of­fice

Rinker, who said he is a real es­tate pro­fes­sional, is go­ing on a “lis­ten­ing tour” of District 5 in the months lead­ing up to Novem­ber to learn what res­i­dents want from a coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Rinker said he looks to sup­port from the city’s gay com­mu­nity, but he plans to earn the votes of all district res­i­dents.

Archi­bong said she rep­re­sents all peo­ple in the district.

“I have a track record of be­ing re­spon­sive and will con­tinue that track record,” she said.

She also said the ex­pe­ri­ence she has gained as a coun­cil mem­ber and the con­tacts she has ob­tained in her three terms “will be ben­e­fi­cial for the district at large.”

This is Rinker’s first bid for pub­lic elected of­fice, but he points to his ex­pe­ri­ence with vol­un­teer­ing and rais­ing money for or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing CHRIS Kids, Ge­or­gia Safe Schools Coali­tion, Hosea Feed The Hun­gry and Project Open Hand to mak­ing him a good can­di­date.

Archi­bong voted in fa­vor of a res­o­lu­tion in­tro­duced by Coun­cilmem­ber Alex Wan late last year to sup­port same-sex mar­riage. That res­o­lu­tion was then sup­ported by Mayor Kasim Reed, who also came out in sup­port of mar­riage equal­ity. Wan is cur­rently the only openly gay coun­cil mem­ber.

If Rinker is elected, he would be the sec­ond openly gay man to serve on the coun­cil. Wan, rep­re­sent­ing District 6, was the first. Wan is also seek­ing re-elec­tion, he said. No­body has an­nounced pub­licly a chal­lenge to Wan’s seat.

District 1 Coun­cilmem­ber Carla Smith has also an­nounced a run for re-elec­tion and drawn a chal­lenger, Robert Welsh, ac­cord­ing to At­lanta Pro­gres­sive News. Welsh is a state bud­get of­fi­cial for the De­part­ment of Be­hav­ioral Health and Devel­op­men­tal Dis­abil­i­ties.

Mayor Reed is also run­ning for re-elec­tion. He has not drawn a high-pro­file chal­lenger.

Matt Rinker, who is openly gay, will chal­lenge in­cum­bent Natalyn Archi­bong for the District 5 seat on the At­lanta City Coun­cil. (Courtesy pho­tos)

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