By Terry Shropshire
Despite being a relative political novice who lacked the powerful industry backing that his opponent was armed with, businessman Antonio Brown scored a surprising, come-from-behind victory in the April 16 District 3 Atlanta City Council special runoff election.
Brown, 34, also becomes the first black openly gay candidate elected to the Atlanta City Council.
The election was needed to fill the void after Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr., 56, succumbed to cancer in November of 2018.
Brown’s outside-of-the-establishment, independent-flavored victory was also decisive as Brown finished with 53.26 percent of the district’s votes. Brown had 669 votes to Amos’ 587, the online Fulton County election results stated.
This win comes in the face of opponent Amos’ political pedigree and impressive endorsements from Atlanta City Council members including At-Large District 1 and 2 council members Michael Julian Bond and Matt Westmoreland.
Amos, a Vine City resident, served as the District 2 Atlanta Board of Education member for seven years before resigning in January to run for this seat. Also that month he resigned as a Security Rep 2 with the Atlanta Department of Aviation to focus on the council campaign. Amos lost to Young in the 2001 District 3 council election.
Brown had finished second to Amos in the special election last month that included 10 candidates. And he does not see this win as an upset.
“I wasn’t really surprised,” Brown told CBS46. “I’m going to be honest. I’ve always maintained my faith in God.”
Brown paid homage the people who believe in him enough to cast their vote for him or work on his successful campaign.
“This has been an amazing journey and I’m grateful for the fact that the will of God and the will of the people prevailed,” Brown said of the win, according to the AJC.
“For us, it’s been about the people. We ran a very people-driven campaign. We were able to knock on thousands of doors and speak with residents and connect with them on us being independent and truly representing the interests of the people.
“I am just grateful and honored that the people believed in me enough to come out and vote and elect me into office. We were literally up against the machine of the establishment and we realized yesterday the true power lies with the people.”
Congratulations for Brown’s somewhat surprising victory came from near and far.
“I look forward to working together on continuing to move District 3 and the city of Atlanta forward,” wrote Atlanta Mayor Keshia Lance Bottoms on her Twitter account after the election results came in.
“Antonio Brown made history in becoming the first black openly LGBTQ person ever elected to the Atlanta City Council – and his unique perspective will be influential in ensuring our entire community is represented in the policy debates that affect our lives,” former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Washington-based LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a news release.
“His victory is important not just for Atlanta but for all of Georgia – a state where discrimination against LGBTQ people remains legal and anti-equality legislators continue to push policies that harm our community. The Atlanta City Council has a proud history of LGBTQ council members, but for more than a year, we have had no LGBTQ voice on the council. Thanks to Antonio, we are back.”
Only a minuscule percentage of the residents — 1,256 — came out to cast their votes in the 40,000 resident district whose boundaries stretch from the economically-challenged Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods to the more affluent Atlantic Station and its ostentatious, multimillion-dollar developments.
Brown, who grew up in poverty and is now an entrepreneur, said he understands his constituents’ need for affordable housing and will making addressing this issue one of the priorities of his tenure, which lasts through 2020.
“We need to look at the issue that 8 percent of residents own their homes and most (residents) are dealing with rent-control issues,” Brown said.
This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice.