Republican candidate for Congress says he’s backed by Buckhead cityhood PAC
By John Ruch
A new Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams says he will be among the first candidates backed by a political action committee created by Buckhead cityhood proponents.
“‘Bring Buckhead back’ is the unofficial slogan right now,” says Christian Zimm, a communications executive with the Buckhead City Committee (BCC) who is making cityhood a main issue of his campaign.
“The Buckhead City Committee is going to be coming out next week with a statement on my candidacy and candidates in general who are supportive of Buckhead City,” he said in a phone interview, adding the BCC PAC will support him financially.
His candidacy and the BCC’s recent announcement of the PAC underscore the partisan base of the Republican-dominated cityhood movement and how a referendum on the issue is timed to coincide with the November Congressional midterm elections and Georgia’s gubernatorial contest.
Williams, who also chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia, holds the Atlanta-based 5th Congressional District seat. Formerly represented by the late Civil Rights movement icon John Lewis, the district currently includes part of southern Buckhead, but in a recent redistricting would include the entire area, presuming it survives court challenges.
A 27-year-old estate planning attorney, Zimm until recently led the Buckhead Young Republicans and has been with the BCC for a year. He is running on a conservative platform, with his website expressing opposition to such hot culture-war items as COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Critical Race Theory and “political correctness.” He does, however, stump for LGBTQ rights in marriage and adoption as well as marijuana decriminalization.
But Buckhead cityhood is his main issue. “I think it’s the best solution for crime, zoning and infrastructure,” he said, calling it a “very out-of-the-box type solution.”
Zimm’s support for “basic civil rights” refers to the right for a public vote on cityhood. His website includes a brief tribute to Lewis as someone who “transcended political parties, adding, “It would be the honor of a lifetime to represent the same district and carry his legacy of civil rights.” Back in 2003, Lewis cited the Civil Rights movement as the basis for his support of the landmark incorporation of the city of Sandy Springs, which neighbors Buckhead and is a key model for the cityhood movement.
Zimm acknowledged that cityhood issues are largely municipal and county concerns, not federal or Congressional. But, he said, “We’re gonna need all hands on deck” to tackle them. He also believes he could aid in a “smooth transition for Atlanta” if cityhood happens and has a pro-police attitude that he says is lacking with Democrats.
If cityhood does not happen, Zimm said he would consider moving out of Buckhead.
What if cityhood legislation doesn’t even make it out of the General Assembly this session, taking his main campaign issue off the table for the rest of the year? “I don’t answer hypothetical questions,” he said, adding that he has other goals for the campaign. “I’m absolutely supportive of Buckhead City,” he said, “…[but] I was going to run anyway.”
Even as redrawn by a Republican legislature, the 5th District is still safely blue. So is Buckhead, for that matter. The city swept an all-Democrat state legislative delegation into office with blue waves the past couple of cycles. How can a Republican hope to have a shot at the seat?
Zimm points to a sense of lack of representation among Buckhead residents. He cited a recent FOX 5 public debate on cityhood where the audience got “a bit spicy” because “people were pissed off” at state and federal leaders not listening to their concerns.
“I think people want change,” he said. “I think people want change right now.”
It remains to be seen what other candidates may garner support from the BCC’s PAC. Another notable new advocate of cityhood is Beth Beskin, a former Republican state representative who was swept out of her Buckhead-area seat in the 2018 blue wave. Beskin appeared in support of the BCC at the FOX 5 debate event. However, Beskin tells SaportaReport she does not intend to run for any office and that doing so as a Republican in Buckhead would be difficult.