No disrespect toward incumbent Councilwoman Anne Fauver, but District 6 — which covers Morningside, Candler Park and Virginia-Highland — needs some new blood. The District is home to a key segment of the Beltline and is arguably the city's most politically active hotspot. And on Dec. 1, voters will decide between neighborhood activist Liz Coyle and nonprofit fundraiser Alex Wan to fill the retiring councilwoman's seat.
Both candidates are genuine community advocates whose hearts are in the race for the right reasons. From city finances to affordable housing, homelessness to public housing, they stack up well with fresh ideas. Either Coyle or Wan would benefit the Council and serve their constituents well, but you can only choose one.
Wan, a fundraiser for Jerusalem House, a nonprofit organization that assists homeless people living with HIV/AIDS, has run an ambitious campaign that's struck a chord with the district's sizable gay community and single-family residential neighborhoods. If elected, he'd claim several "firsts," including first Asian-American on Council and first openly gay male councilman.
Wan's a formidable foe who’d bring to the job an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. His community service hasn't been as hyperlocal as Coyle's, but he's worked with the Morningside-Lenox Park Neighborhood Association, Asian-American groups and such organizations as the Human Rights Campaign and For the Kid In All of Us, Inc.
He's also racked up endorsements from such groups as the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans, Georgia Equality and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the city's largest police union, in addition to nods of support from former opponents Steve Brodie, Tad Christian and Miguel Gallegos.
But Coyle has the experience and know-how to hit the ground running. A communications professional and married mother of two, Coyle's been involved — and sometimes led — nearly every community organization in the district. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in the city who's devoted more time and energy to brainstorming ordinances and pushing for neighborhood improvements. In 2006, she was the public face of the neighborhood's successful opposition to Gwinnett County developer Wayne Mason's plans for two 30-story towers at 10th and Monroe. When the state and Amtrak threatened earlier this year to assume control of tracks along Piedmont Park's eastern border for a commuter rail line — and imperil the Beltline in the process — she led rallies and helped thwart their efforts.
Coyle is a wonk's wonk, a person who rattles off zoning codes and ordinance minutiae like it's her trade. Along the way, she's faced criticism and detractors. During the campaign, former opponent Christian called her "divisive" and "polarizing." Most recently, critics have derided her for not vocally opposing a controversial Beltline land-use proposal at 10th Street and Monroe Drive during her term as community representative on the Beltline board. (Coyle resigned shortly after announcing her candidacy.)
Coyle, who, along with Wan, voted against the Beltline proposal on Nov. 16, defends her silence by saying she didn’t want to influence the public-planning process by injecting her opinion prematurely. She also points out that she informed Beltline board members of her personal opposition to the controversial 10th and Monroe plan.
Her willingness to take a strong stand on the issues — and to put in so much time on neighborhood concerns — speaks to her passion and integrity. She knows the issues inside and out and has a record of service and results. District 6 voters should punch her name on Dec. 1.
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