Brookhaven’s District 4 City Councilmember Joe Gebbia will not run for re-election this fall, while fellow Councilmember John Park will seek to retain his District 2 seat.
The announcements come as the City Council recently set candidate qualifying fees and dates for the Nov. 2 election. The council’s four seats are on the ballot in staggered terms, so that two seats are on the ballot every two years.
Gebbia, a health-food entrepreneur, was a member of the city’s founding City Council in 2012. He won a full term in 2013 and a second term in 2017.
“I announced when I first ran for office back in 2012 that I was a firm believer in term limits,” Gebbia said in a phone interview. “I was self-imposing a two-term limit on myself, and that magical day has come. I will not be seeking re-election. I will fulfill my promise.”
“At this point, I have no intention of seeking further elected office,” Gebbia added, “but I will remain engaged in opining on policies as they affect Brookhaven, and on statewide and federal issues.”
In a written statement, Gebbia said it was “a blessing and an honor” to serve the district and the city. “In eight short years, we have helped guide Brookhaven’s transformation from a neglected enclave in northern DeKalb County to a focused, visionary and responsive local government for the residents it serves,” he wrote. “In addition, we have become a leading force in economic development in the region.”
Gebbia said in the interview that he is willing to mentor any candidate to replace him, a practice that he believes is important for passing along the city’s institutional knowledge and practices. He said the city has many strengths, including smaller government, low taxes, efficient spending and “high ethical standing.” Another important feature of Brookhaven government, he said, is “a very strong culture toward respect of opposite opinions. That’s a really sore point in our national politics right now. I’ve been so committed that Brookhaven stays above the fray and sets an example.”
Gebbia has served as the city’s mayor pro tempore, meaning he takes on the executive duties if the mayor is unavailable or incapacitated. Gebbia is the father of Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia Jr., a personal connection that occasionally came up in council discussions of short-term rental rules.
District 4 covers much of southern Brookhaven, including the rapidly redeveloping Buford Highway corridor and Executive Park area. The district is also where the city is growing through recent annexations, where Gebbia has often taken a leadership role.
Park, an IT systems engineer, won a special election for the council seat in 2014 and a full term in 2017. He confirmed in an email that he intends to run for re-election this year.
District 2 includes many of the city’s east-central neighborhoods, including Ashford Park, Skyland Park and the north side of the Buford Highway corridor.
Any would-be replacements for Gebbia or challengers for Park have some time to think about it. At its Jan. 12 meeting, the council set a candidate qualifying fee of $360 and filing dates of Aug. 18-20.
–John Ruch and Jasmine Floyd