In his interview, attorney Brandon Cory Goldberg, told PrideIndex, should he win, “I will run my office the same way I run my campaign: as a community-driven effort that brings together diverse perspectives to explore the challenges facing Atlanta.” The Midtown resident is one of four candidates vying for the position of Post 1 At-Large. He is a member of several organization including the Young Democrats of Atlanta (YDATL) and the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition.
Challengers: Michael Julian Bond (incumbent); Alfred Brooks; Todd A. Gray; and Jereme Sharpe.
What he shared with us:
PrideIndex (PI): Why did you decide to run for office?
Brandon Cory Goldberg (BCG): An attorney and resident of Midtown, I am extensively involved in Atlanta. From the Stonewall Bar Association to the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition to the Democratic Party and many more organizations, I have immersed myself in the fabric of Atlanta – striving to help build bridges and working hard to make Atlanta a city for all its residents.
My engagement in Atlanta is reflected in the constant meetings and events that I lead. Working with friends, community partners, and people from all walks of life, my favorite way to spend my time is helping one of my many organizations better Atlanta.
As several of my executive roles in community organizations came to an end, it was clear I needed to find my next way to serve. Exploring the various options, I saw that City Council is a place where I can bring my experience of bridge-building to a greater level. There was a need for a change in this particular Council seat, and I decided to make my pitch to Atlanta for a better way of solving our problems by finding sustainable solutions with broad buy-in from different perspectives.
I have assembled campaign advisory committees comprised of people from different backgrounds and perspectives that I’ve previously worked with through these numerous other organizations. With committees dedicated to Public Safety, COVID-19 Economic Recovery, Housing Equity, Transportation, and Diversity, we are hard at work finding those sustainable solutions. Information about the committee members is available on my website.
PI: What makes you qualified to hold this office?
BCG: My extensive experience in community organizations spans numerous categories of groups. From political to professional to religious, much of my engagement has been in inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogue. I have years of experience bringing people from different perspectives and backgrounds together to tackle difficult issues. It is exactly that kind of bridge building that Atlanta needs. The biggest issue facing our city is our lack of unity. It impacts our public safety problems, housing equity disparities, and transportation limitations. All someone needs to do is look at the runoff map from the 2017 mayoral race to see that Atlanta is severely divided. It is divided along racial lines, ideological lines, and in numerous other ways. My experience is in bringing people together, and only by doing that will Atlanta be able to move forward on all of the other issues challenging us.
PI: Should you win, what can voters expect from you in this position?
BCG: I will run my office the same way I run my campaign: as a community-driven effort that brings together diverse perspectives to explore the challenges facing Atlanta and craft sustainable solutions that have broad buy-in. I am not interested in introducing legislation or fighting for positions that will not see the light of day or success if passed. I am interested in those solutions that large portions of the city will get behind and support. Those kinds of solutions are not easy to craft, but it is the only way to ensure that we can actually move Atlanta forward.
I will also be a representative for minority communities without a representative who looks like them. With only so many seats on Council, many ethnic, religious, and other minority communities don’t even have a candidate running and will likely not have a member on Council. I am not looking to merely be an ally. I am looking to be a friend and known quantity – someone that a constituent feels comfortable calling and speaking frankly with regarding issues challenging them or items they feel need to be addressed. Too many people feel uncomfortable reaching out to Council for help. My goal is to ensure they can always feel comfortable speaking with me. That’s also a two-way street; I will rely on their insight to ensure I know how issues are affecting various communities in Atlanta. That is the only way I can be effective in serving all Atlantans.
PI: Do you plan on running for higher office someday? Why or why not?
BCG: My goal is to be an effective public servant and to help as many people as possible as effectively and quickly as possible. I would have no problem if that meant serving on City Council for the duration of my political career. If there is a future opportunity to be of service in another capacity, I would certainly explore that option. But, first thing’s first, and that’s winning in November and getting to work for Atlanta.
PI: What similarities and differences do you see between yourself and your opponent(s)?
BCG We can all identify the major issues impacting Atlanta. However, I’m the only candidate putting forward specific solutions and doing so with the benefit of my extensive campaign advisory committees. My ideas are designed to have broad appeal and buy-in to ensure sustainability. I can walk folks from any background and belief through my positions with diligence and substance, showing them exactly why I am taking the positions I have taken and how the solutions I’m calling for will speak to folks from all sides of a particular issue. My committees are reflective of my high-level community engagement, and none of my opponents have looked to such a detailed approach for defining in detail and solving in detail our city’s problems.
PI: What should the city of Atlanta do to address the issues of the homeless and the underserved?
The city should explore opportunities to build micro homes on currently unused city property. These homes will provide those currently homeless with a safe place to live and alleviate other issues in our city related to homelessness. Additionally, studies have shown that once a homeless person is given a home, they can devote more of their mental energy to finding and holding a job to then pay their expenses.
We need to do a much better job of connecting with the homeless population in a non-threatening way to ensure they have access to human services and economic opportunity. Regarding the broader community of Atlanta’s underserved, we also need to ensure equal and equitable access to economic mobility.
We should address economic mobility both from the jobs side and the education side. Ensuring economic opportunities at existing small, medium, and large businesses for our residents is paramount, but so is giving our residents the ability to start their own businesses. We should empower aspiring and new business owners with the tools, mentorship, and financial support they need to get their businesses off the ground and be successful. While much of these resources may come from more established businesses, the city should play a role in connecting existing business leaders and successful entrepreneurs with aspiring ones.
We should also work with our local colleges and universities to support economic laboratories, empowering students to explore economics and business opportunities. We should connect schools with entrepreneurs and businesses to establish those connections. These opportunities should also be widely available in our public schools. I have had the pleasure of knowing our current school board chair Jason Esteves for nearly fifteen years, going back to our days as classmates at Emory Law. I will work with him and our entire board to build these opportunities and programs for our students.
My office will play a central role in building these connections and facilitating opportunities for aspiring small business owners to get the support they need. We will also ensure that minority communities are given the support they need by working with external partners like the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and by connecting minority owned business with minority aspiring entrepreneurs. These connections will help show the path to success and address ways to overcome the additional difficulties that are a terrible reality of being a minority entrepreneur.
PI: Should you win, what do you plan to do to address the needs of your detractors?
Whether someone supported me will not be relevant to whether I provide them with superior constituent services. Everyone in our city deserves to be treated fairly, and I will serve with that standard in mind. Additionally, my approach of seeking broad buy-in for policies and positions will ensure that even those who disagree with me will have their perspectives addressed in my dialogues and incorporated into the sustainable solutions that we implement.
PI: What is your position regarding funding for affordable housing and/or the sky-rocketing costs of living in Atlanta?
My campaign’s Housing Equity Committee has been working hard on this problem. I support much of the city’s Planning Report released in March. Rezoning single family homes, particular ones near transit options, can help alleviate this issue. We can maintain the feel of a neighborhood while still allowing for more carriage houses, basement units, and similar options. My committee is looking at options that have worked in other cities too, such as rent control options and also the possibility of tying property tax increases to the length of time someone has resided in their home. Too many people are being forced from their homes, and we need to limit that. For those that do end up being priced out of their homes, in addition to the other housing options mentioned above, Atlanta must work with developers to ensure new construction projects contain sufficient affordable housing options.
Additionally, as noted above, the city should explore opportunities to build micro homes on currently unused city property. These homes will provide those currently homeless with a safe place to live and alleviate other issues in our city related to homelessness.
PI: What are your suggestions for building a better relationship between the police and people of color and the LGBTQ+ community?
Atlanta should recruit police from all corners of our city. Our police should live locally to their patrols, so that there’s built in trust with their neighbors and small business owners. We need to make sure police are well trained and well compensated. That way, we will retain our officers and provide them with the education they need to do their job effectively and equitably.
Police alternatives are also critical. I fully support expanding the Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative’s (PAD) resources to ensure they are not only available city-wide, but that PAD actually has the ability to respond city-wide. We need to reserve our police for instances of true public safety issues. PAD and the police should coordinate to ensure all of our responses provide safety for the responders. Additionally, we should not be sending our police to respond to issues like zoning violations. The zoning authority should be handling those issues. The presence of police escalates situations; their very uniform creates heightened tension. And so, we should focus on enforcing our laws and providing a safe city for our residents while recognizing that different issues call for different responses. These are all circumstances that overwhelmingly impact minority communities, and showing that police are focused on keeping us safe rather than responding excessively and unnecessarily to situations that mostly involve minority communities will go a long way toward building trust city-wide.
PI: How should the city address funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and education?
I support external sources for new funding. There are numerous public and private grants that are available, and we need to secure that funding for these issues and numerous other issues. However, there are two problems standing in our way. First, the city has woefully mismanaged our AIDS housing program (HOPWA). HOPWA is in disarray. There is a great deal of mismanagement by the city, and funds are not being spent effectively to actually provide help to those who really need it. Atlanta may even lose the HOPWA federal funding altogether, which speaks to our second problem. Atlanta is terrible at managing funds and already had the WorkSource workforce development federal grant withdrawn after years of warnings from the federal government that the program was being mismanaged and was at risk of being pulled. Our city will need grant money to fund our critical programs and services. As the economic impact of COVID-19 continues to effect individuals and businesses, raising taxes is not an option. But Atlanta will only be able to secure grants if we show that we will handle the funding responsibly.
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.