Washington, DC – The Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC), the connected PAC of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), today proudly announces its endorsement of Liliana Bakhtiari for Atlanta City Council for the 5th District. If elected, Liliana would join Amir Farokhi as the second Iranian American elected to the Atlanta City Council. Additionally, she would become the first LGBTQ+ Muslim elected official in the state of Georgia, and only the second elected nationwide.
Liliana Bakhtiari, the daughter of Iranian and Azeri immigrants, was born and raised in Atlanta. She has been a community activist, and is on the boards of Georgia-based advocacy organizations Georgia Equality, gloATL, and PEDS. Bakhtiari also serves as the curator of Atlanta-based art organization Black Futures Matter. She also tackles local issues such as increasing voter turnout, assisting unsheltered populations, organizing blood drives, developing programs for seniors, putting together public art initiatives, and more.
Liliana first decided to run for office in 2017, in part as a response to the Travel Ban. After years of serving as a community advocate, she believes the next best step is to run for City Council. In November 2017, she came within 247 votes of winning her primary over the incumbent. She is running again for the same District 5 seat, which is now an open seat.
PAAIA had the opportunity to interview Liliana Bakhtiari about her campaign. Read our interview below.
PAAIA: What inspired you to run for public office?
Liliana Bakhtiari: I first decided to run for public office in 2017, during the Travel Ban imposed by President Trump. My father instilled in me from an early age the importance of charity and public service as one of the pillars of our Islamic faith. After years of serving our community as an advocate and servant leader, I realized that I would be able to help more people if I could directly influence public policy. As our next Atlanta City Councilmember, I’ll fight to close the skyrocketing digital divide and equity gap in Atlanta – the largest in the nation. I’ll fight to make every Southeast Atlanta neighborhood safer and more affordable. And I’ll work directly with our community to build an even better, more inclusive Atlanta.
PAAIA: Tell us about the office you are seeking, and the district that you are running in?
Liliana Bakhtiari: I am running for Atlanta City Council District 5, a non-partisan open seat, held by Natalyn Archibong who vacated the seat to run for the open Atlanta City Council President seat. District 5 covers the Southeast portion of the City of Atlanta, spanning both Fulton and DeKalb Counties. I previously ran for this seat in 2017 against then-16-year incumbent Natalyn Archibong and came within 247 votes (2%) of defeating her.
PAAIA: What are the most critical issues facing your district today, and how do you plan on addressing these issues?
Liliana Bakhtiari: The #1 issue facing our neighborhoods is affordability. We need to actively work to increase the number of units of affordable housing in Atlanta and do a better job of addressing housing affordability across the spectrum.
Second is Public Safety. We have to reimagine what public safety means for our community so that everyone feels safe regardless of income bracket, race, immigration status or zip code. Third is Infrastructure, but specifically I want to emphasize sustainable and resilient infrastructure. Atlanta is growing quickly, but our infrastructure has not been updated to accommodate this growth. It is time that we catch up and start planning for the future.
As our next City Councilmember, I will fight every day to make every SE Atlanta neighborhood safer, regardless of income bracket or zip code. I’ll eagerly partner with both our neighborhood groups and community leaders and our law enforcement agencies to increase community policing, increase training to end profiling, hold law enforcement responsible for excessive force while also asking for more funding for training and pay, improve our city’s efforts to crack down on abandoned houses that serve as crime magnets, increase and improve after school programs, and improve social justice programs that work to sever the school to prison pipelines in our neighborhoods.
To learn more about Liliana Bakhtiari’s campaign, click here. PAAIA thanks Liliana Bakhtiari for taking the time to speak with us!