Brookhaven’s “brand identity” and Latino community relations were discussed as Mayor John Ernst brought his series of town halls to Buford Highway on July 28.

The town hall, which drew about 35 people, was held at the Latin American Association, which provides social and immigration legal services to Atlanta’s Latino community. Last year, its services and programs assisted more than 40,000 people, LAA Executive Director Anibal Torres told the audience.

Brookhaven City Manager speaks at the July 28 town hall while Mayor John Ernst (seated, right) looks on. (Photo Grace Huseth)

Christian Sigman, who was appointed city manager in May, said he was attracted to Brookhaven’s blank-canvas potential.
“Brand is like character,” he said. “Our brand will be how we live our lives. Residents will be the brand ambassadors,” Sigman said.

Another topic of discussion was We Love BuHi, an organization founded last year to promote and protect Buford Highway’s diverse community through Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville.

Glianny Fagundo, an attorney who has served on various LAA and Buford Highway planning committees, praised the efforts of We Love BuHi, and suggested the city adopt the name as part of Brookhaven’s brand.

“What has been the most effective thing lately? ‘BuHi,’” Fagundo said. “Someone came up with a concept that’s effective because it’s getting away from the word ‘highway’ to promote a livable, walkable community.”

Discussion about the Latino community in Brookhaven was sparked by Nancy Tzintzun, a resident who said she is also serving as an intern at the city of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Tzintzun said that many in the Hispanic community are hesitant to report crimes, not understanding the difference between Brookhaven Police, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Brookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura said that educating the community on the difference between the organizations can start by setting an example for others. Residents should not hesitate to call on Brookhaven police and let their neighbors see that the police are a resource for service and safety, he said.

“Outreach is important as we go out and discuss issues that impact the community,” Torres said.

–Grace Huseth