Retired Conservative U.S. Army Officer Mike Russell Is Running For Atlanta City Council President

Mike Russell with his husband, Jarno Oostingh (left).
Mike Russell with his husband, Jarno Oostingh (left).
Credit Courtesy: Mike Russell

Mike Russell, a retired US Army officer with no formal political experience, announced Wednesday he’s running for Atlanta City Council President.

Russell is Black and identifies as gay, two distinctions that aren’t necessarily barriers to winning the head council seat. But in heavily-Democratic Atlanta, the self-avowed “common-sense conservative’s” political leanings might be.

“I think it’s a challenge,” said Russell. “I know I have an uphill battle.”

Russell said his platform is heavy on free enterprise and public safety. And to lower recent spikes in Atlanta’s crime rates, he says he’ll focus on the city’s Black communities.

“We make up over 90% of both the perpetrators and the victims,” Russell told WABE. “In my mind, this is thuggish behavior that needs to stop. We need to call it what it is and deal with it effectively,” he said, adding we often dance around the issue because whites don’t want to be seen as racists and Blacks don’t want to be seen as sellouts.

Russell says he hopes voters will “just give [him] a chance,” and he pledges to listen to them in return.