Gay man challenges incumbent in Atlanta City Council race
Matt Rinker seeks to unseat three-term council member Natalyn Archibong
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)