Opinion: Don’t vote for Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan just because he’s gay

Upon his election, Mr. Wan was immediately drawn into the botched raid on the Atlanta Eagle. At no time did he take a public stand against this attack on our community, and he decided to remain silent on the case even after a federal judge ruled against the city.

Mr. Wan has also completely ignored Atlanta’s anti-discrimination ordinance. The ordinance currently in force sounds great, but lacks any meaningful enforcement. I would have expected him to stand up for our civil rights, but he’s changed nothing.

In a complete lack of transparency, Mr. Wan refused to disclose votes he cast during meetings of the City Council. He hid behind city attorneys and approved spending taxpayer money to keep his votes secret, believing that no one had the right to know how he voted. Thankfully, the Supreme Court of Georgia disagreed.

What concerns me most about Mr. Wan is his complete inability to be transformational. He was elected in the aftermath of a terrible act— the Eagle raid was a modern-day Stonewall. He could have spoken out and worked for changes that would protect our community. He had every opportunity to make our city better for its LGBTQ residents and more transparent for everyone. Instead he turned his back on us, despite every indication that the city was wrong on the Eagle, on secret council votes, and on a toothless anti-discrimination ordinance.

What has Mr. Wan actually accomplished for us? A non-binding resolution in support of marriage equality is a minor accomplishment that required no courage. Nor should Mr. Wan be allowed to take sole credit for Mayor Reed’s flip-flop on same-sex marriage. Do not be fooled.

Mr. Wan’s horrible proposals, omissions, and lack of effort to represent the citizens of Atlanta, outweigh the minor work he has accomplished. As an LGBTQ individual he faced a far easier path to office than many before him. Our elected officials are supposed to demonstrate courage. It hurts to see an individual with so much potential to do so little. Alex Wan is no Harvey Milk. Our community deserves better.

Mr. Wan was elected at a terrible moment in our city’s history. Hopefully, our community never again experiences such an act. However, there is still much more to be done—beyond the anti-discrimination ordinance or matters of transparency.

Our community faces the dual challenges of youth homelessness and housing an aging senior population. Bullying and assaults based on someone’s perceived sexual orientation still occur. The police force has lost the trust of our community. We need a leader that will actively work to make the changes we expect.

We also need a leader who looks beyond issues facing the LGBTQ community. Atlanta’s infrastructure is crumbling and needs repair. With the development of the Beltline, new parks need to be designed and built. The city must remain a destination for business and tourists. We deserve a leader that will be our voice on these issues.

I implore any person that wants to improve our city to run against Mr. Wan, regardless of sexual orientation. Our LGBTQ community will support you, if you support us. We know better than to vote for someone simply because of sexual orientation. I will be one of your first donors and volunteers, and there are thousands who agree as well. We deserve better representation on the City Council.


Editor’s note: Brad Ploeger lives in Atlanta City Council District 1. He was a Libertarian candidate for Public Service Commission in 2012 and was the Libertarian nominee for State House District 59 in 2010. This column represents his personal opinion. GA Voice has not taken a position in any Atlanta City Council race.