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Iranian pair seek Atlanta council seats.

Two Iranian-Americans are running for seats on the Atlanta City Council during the November 3 election and if both win, Iranian-Americans will control two of the 15 seats on the council.

Attorney Amir Farokhi is calling for support for his candidacy for Atlanta's At Large Post 2 seat, while scientist Bahareh Azizi is hoping she will also see a large turnout of supporters who will vote her into the District 6.

Both of the Iranian-American candidates were born in the states, but both are calling on Atlanta's Iranian-American community for support. Both are also running in open seats, that is, seats where no incumbent is seeking re-election.

Atlanta city elections are non-partisan.

After earning a degree in political science from Duke University in North Carolina, Farokhi traveled to Taiwan where he taught for a year at the Taipei American School. After he returned to the states, Farohki completed his law degree in 2004 from Duke and then returned to Atlanta where he currently practices law.

Farokhi is running for the seat that Councilwoman Mary Norwood is leaving to run a bid for mayor. He faces three opponents, including Weslee Knapp, a process engineer and real estate entrepreneur and Aaron Watson, an attorney and former CPA with Deloitte and Touche.

Farohki, who was born in Atlanta to a Persian father and an American mother, says he has maintained a life-long connection to the Iranian-American community in Atlanta, as evidenced by the legal assistance he provided to the Persian Community Center in Atlanta when it sent relief aid to the victims of the Bam earthquake in 2003.

Since he is a running for an at-large seat and not running in a specific ward, Farokhi faces an expensive citywide contests. But he has lots of experience campaigning; he declared his candidacy more than a year ago.

Farokhi's platform consists of a number of issues, including transparency in city government, financial accountability, improving city services, increasing public transportation options, protecting neighborhoods and affordable housing, and increasing the city's environmental sustainability--his aim is for Atlanta to have the smallest carbon footprint possible.



Azizi will face five other opponents in her bid for the District 6 open seat, including: Mark Brodie, Tad Christian, Elizabeth Coyle, Miguel Gallegos and Alexander Wan.

Azizi was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Kuwait. After high school, she returned to the United States to pursue her education. She received her bachelor's degree in biochemistry and biotechnology from Michigan State University and went on to get her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2005, after receiving her doctorate, she joined the staff at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a research support manager.

According to her website, Azizi's top priorities include safety, community development, education and the city budget. "I will work to make our neighborhoods and streets more safe and secure. I will focus on creating unity among the various constituents in our community, tackling problems such as rising property taxes and creating a unifying, growing environment for residents and small business owners.

"As an educator, I will work with the school systems to ensure that our students are provided with the tools and programs they need to excel in all disciplines, especially in the sciences and math. We must continually increase the competitiveness of all our schools," Azizi's website says.

In a September interview with the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) and its connected political action committee, the Iranian American Political Action Committee, Azizi explained what she believed set her apart from the competition.

"My multi-cultural upbringing has provided me with an international perspective and has made me a very open-minded person, learning tolerance and acceptance, two traits of my personality I am very proud of.

"On a professional level, I am a scientific researcher. As a researcher, you acquire critical thinking skills, along with an analytical research-oriented mind that I use to approach challenges and issues. As a newcomer to the political realm, my analytical skills, along with a fresh perspective to addressing the issues facing our district and city, I know that I can be effective in finding long-term effective solutions," she said.

Azizi also said she hoped fellow Iranians would support her election. "I am proud of my Iranian-American heritage, and I would hope that Iranian-Americans, as other Atlantans, would support my campaign.... Nevertheless, I would hope that Iranian-Americans realize that as more Iranian-American candidates run for public office, the entire community will move even further into the political realm of this country, giving back to our community and helping advance the lives of Iranian-Americans living in the United States. It is up to us to set an example for those with similar backgrounds all across the world," Azizi said.
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Title Annotation:Diaspora: Around the globe
Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Oct 30, 2009
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