Antonio Brown has upset Byron Amos in the April 16 District 3 Atlanta City Council special runoff election and is the first black openly gay candidate elected to the council.
The election is needed to fill the seat after Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr., 56, died of cancer in November.
With all 16 precincts reporting, according to the Fulton County Elections and Registration Department website, Brown had 53.26 percent of the vote. Brown, who owns LVL XIII (Level 13), a men’s active leisure wear business, finished second in the nine-candidate March 19 special election with 19.33% of the vote.
Amos was the leading vote-getter in that election with 23.45 percent of the vote, but couldn’t hang on to the lead in the runoff despite having a major advantage over Brown in terms of political experience.
“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. “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.”
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.
Amos said he was not disappointed with the loss.
“I’m encouraged,” he said. “The people of District 3 spoke on the type of leadership they wanted and who they wanted to represent them. … The answer to that question was Antonio Brown. I was not disappointed at all. I am still dedicated and determined to be a part of this district and help this district grow in the right way.”
Amos said he was endorsed by seven council members: Michael Julian Bond, Matt Westmoreland. Dustin Hillis, J.P. Matzigkeit, Carla Smith, Andrea Boone and Joyce Sheperd.
Brown said he was endorsed by fellow candidates Estrada, Mainor, Simama and Young, plus the Atlanta North Georgia Central Labor Council; District 39 State Rep. Erica Thomas, D-Austell; District 58 State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta; former council President Cathy Woolard; the Revs. Joe Beasley and James Butler; System 5 Electronics President Maceo Antonio Brown; Synergy Development Partners; MTV President Chris McCarthy and the Victory Fund.
Amos said he does not plan to run for the school board seat he vacated to run for city council.
Brown, a Home Park resident, was running for public office for the first time.
“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.”
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which donated $3,000 to Brown’s campaign, is a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ candidates.
Brown said his victory means “we’re ready to have a (gay member’s) voice on city council and to have representation that’s reflective of our entire city.”
The runoff came four days after third-place candidate Greg Clay, who was three votes shy of tying Brown for the second spot in the runoff, had his election challenge dismissed by a Fulton County Superior Court senior judge.
Clay filed the challenge for two reasons. First, he claimed Brown should be disqualified because he didn’t disclose in his qualifying papers in January that the state filed a lien against him in August for defaulting on his state tax liability for not paying a total of $5,690.33 in taxes. Second, Clay claimed some voters were told by poll workers they couldn’t cast ballots because they live in District 4 instead of District 3.
Brown presented evidence that he had paid the lien and said he was glad the judge ruled against the challenge. Clay did not return phone and email messages seeking comment on the judge’s ruling.