Alex Wan has called District 6 home for 25 years. He represented the district from 2010-2018. Wan also served on the Atlanta Regional Commission Board and on the Board of the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board.
“I am the only candidate that has worked in the private, public, non-profit, and education sectors, giving me a unique vantage point on the collaborative opportunities before us,” he said. Below, he shared with PrideIndex his vision for District 6.
Challengers: Justin A. Critz, Courtney Jenee DeDi, Kathryn Voelpel
What he shared with us:
PrideIndex (PI): Why did you decide to run for this office?
Alex Wan (AW): I have called District 6 home for 27+ years. Over that time, I have worked closely with community leaders tackling shared challenges. I had the privilege of serving eight years as an Atlanta City Council member (this very seat), providing a voice for our neighborhoods on the issues we care about. Even afterwards, my commitment to this work continued through service on the Atlanta Regional Commission Board and the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board.
Atlanta faces real challenges. As we emerge from COVID, crime numbers are moving in the wrong direction as public confidence in our police officers is shaken due to local and national events. Delivery of basic city services has become unreliable, with delays in some critical functions hampering forward progress, and economic inequity and housing affordability are worsening. This comes at a time of significant change in government leadership with over one-third of city council, council president, and the mayor positions being open seats this cycle.
Facing these challenges, our community is seeking leadership we know and trust and committed representation that we have experienced first-hand. I am running because I know my deep relationships through the district, coupled with my demonstrated experience as an effective leader, makes me the ideal person to champion those issues at City Hall. Most importantly, I can hit the ground running Day One, getting to work right away on critical issues that can’t wait as others get up the learning curve.
PI: What makes you qualified to run for office?
AW: I bring a unique blend of skills and experience to this position: demonstrated business experience and leadership; an ongoing track record of community service; a studied, collaborative approach to problem solving; and proven, engaged representation of Atlanta communities as an elected official.
The combination of my Industrial Engineering degree from Georgia Tech and MBA from Wharton Business School foster a sound, rational approach to problem solving and a thorough understanding of finance and budgets. As a successful business owner, I bring knowledge needed to run state government in a businesslike way – delivering a quality product, managing a budget, and making difficult decisions in tough times. As a nonprofit executive, I understand the power of stakeholder partnerships – public, private, and nonprofit – to solve our community’s challenges even with limited resources. And my current role at Horizons Atlanta has reinforced my long-held belief that education creates the broadest path to closing opportunity gaps and equity challenges in Georgia.
I am the only candidate that has worked in the private, public, non-profit, and education sectors, giving me a unique vantage point on the collaborative opportunities before us. Additionally, the leadership style that I demonstrated in my two terms on the Atlanta City Council – and the relationships I built across multiple municipal jurisdictions – will provide a balanced approach for building consensus and moving Georgia forward.
PI: What is your vision for the District 6?
AW: I believe Atlanta should be a city that works for everyone. That begins with our city government delivering on its core promises to its citizens. We deserve safe neighborhoods and business corridors. We deserve reliable, efficient and effective city services (public works, city utilities and infrastructure).
We deserve world-class city amenities like vibrant greenspaces, well-connected, comprehensive transit, and arts and entertainment. We deserve initiatives that enhance the character of our neighborhoods, not threaten to change them irreparably. And everyone deserves to be able to live in our great city and district for generations.
PI: How do you plan to address the issues of District 6?
AW: During my two terms on City Council, I built a reputation of working hard, coming to meetings prepared, and always being open to listening and learning about the issues. I also approached everything with a collaborative spirit – with my colleagues, with the administration, with stakeholders, and with my constituents.
I will take those same tenets back to City Hall to craft and implement solutions to the challenges our District is facing. They are complicated issues that will require multiple partners to solve. But I am confident that my methodical, reasoned, and analytical approach will go far in addressing these opportunities.
PI: What similarities and differences do you see between yourself and your opponent(s)?
AW: I hope that all of the candidates in this race share a genuine desire to work hard to improve the quality of life for all Atlantans.
I am the only candidate in this race who has City Council experience, having held this seat from 2010-2018.
PI: What should the city of Atlanta do to address the issues of the homeless and the underserved?
AW: The years that I worked at Jerusalem House taught me the importance of not only addressing the immediate need of shelter for the homeless, but also how critical it was to wrap the appropriate supportive services around the individuals and families to address the underlying causes of their homelessness. That was the best way to sustain the solution and help get them back on the road to self-sufficiency. I carry that same philosophy with me into how I believe the City should help our homeless population.
That also entails bringing together multiple municipalities and agencies to ensure that the safety net we build is seamless. It can be too easy to “pass the buck” to another entity, which is often when people fall through the cracks and end up not receiving any services at all. The City can lead and be a strong partner in that effort.
PI: Should you win, what do you plan to do to address the needs of your detractors?
AW: I learned early on that not everyone is always on your side of any issue or at any given time. However, as the representative of the entire District, I made it a priority always to make myself available to those that might not agree with me, and to always listen intently and genuinely to seek any commonalities that could form the basis of a better understanding. I also made it a point to communicate with everyone, offering the rationale of my positions, being open and willing to learn, and giving myself space to change my mind based on those interactions.
PI: What are your suggestions for building a better relationship between the police and people of color and the LGBTQ+ community?
AW: During my two terms as City Council, I supported the LGBTQ Advisory Board that was established within the Atlanta Police Department as a forum in which conversations could be held and initiatives developed to improve the relationship between the police and the community. That work must continue. Additionally, particularly with the continued incidents of police brutality across the country, Atlanta Police Department must take this opportunity to examine its training programs to ensure that comprehensive implicit bias and de-escalation strategies are incorporated into the curriculum.
PI: How should the city address funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and education?
AW: My community activism started in the 1990s with local Atlanta HIV/AIDS organizations, and helped raise funds for services and educational outreach. I also served as the Director of Development of Jerusalem House, Atlanta’s largest HIV/AIDS housing provider, so this issue is very significant to me.
While the Fulton County Health Department plays a more leading role with regard to HIV/AIDS treatment and education, the City of Atlanta does administer several federal government grants supporting HIV/AIDS organizations, particularly with regard to housing. In recent years, the City has also included funding in its annual budget to support HIV/AIDS outreach. I believe these efforts should continue, and that the City should also strive to be a strong collaborative partner with Fulton County as well as the service providers.
To see the out LGBTQ candidates running for office in the November 2, 2021 election in the Atlanta area click on the names below. Check back for updates.
Antonio Brown, Larry Carter, Jason Hudgins, Brandon Cory Goldberg, Liliana Bakhtiari, Jereme Sharpe, Kelly-Jeanne Lee, Devin Barrington-Ward, Keisha Waites, Courtney DeDi, Alex Wan, Khalid Kamau and Mike Russell.