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Monday, July 6, 2009

Midtown resident Bahareh Azizi joins City Council District 6 race

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Remember that mystery candidate for Atlanta City Council District 6 that we hinted at a few days ago? Well, there'll be no more waiting, fine commenters! She's in!

Bahareh Azizi, a Georgia Tech scientist, announced her candidacy on Saturday for the increasingly crowded race to represent the Midtown, Morningside, Druid Hills and Virginia-Highland neighborhoods at City Hall.

According to an emailed press release, Azizi launched her campaign during Saturday's 40th annual Peachtree Road Race. She says the announcement dovetails with her campaign's "commitment, endurance and a willingness to join the people of our city on the streets of Atlanta."

In 2007, she was the co-host of Science Investigators, a PBS pilot show. According to a press release about the show's first episode, Azizi investigated the disappearance of a certain species of frogs in New York and drove an electric car that went from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds. Wheee!

Azizi received a doctorate degree in biochemistry from Georgia Tech and, according to her press release, "has spent her career on research, education, and mentoring students at [the university]."

There were some low-level murmurings (and a little bit of confusion) that Azizi might have to step down from her post at Georgia Tech if she were to run for City Council. In 1977, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld a policy made by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents — and referred to by political junkies as the "Newt Gingrich Rule" — that says public university employees must take a leave of absence while running for state or federal office. The policy was challenged by Christina Jeffrey in 1998 when the former Kennesaw State University professor announced she wanted to run against Gingrich. She was unsuccessful.

It looks like Azizi's in the clear, however. According to section 802.15.03 of the board of regent's policy manual, "Employees may seek and hold elective office at other than the state or federal level, or appointive office, when such candidacy for or holding of the office does not conflict or interfere with the employee's duties and responsibilities to the institution or the System." Keep in mind, that Council is — or if you ask some councilmembers, is supposed to be — a part-time job. A campaign spokeswoman said Azizi consulted the policy and checked with school officials before she decided to run.

Azizi's opponents in the District 6 race are Steve Brodie, Liz Coyle, Alex Wan and Miguel Gallegos.

(Photo courtesy Bahareh Azizi Campaign)

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