A second candidate has entered the race for the Atlanta City Council District 8 seat, voicing concern about the Buckhead cityhood movement and the scale of local development.

Nicolas Uppal joins Mary Norwood in the race to replace J.P. Matzigkeit, who chose not to run for reelection Nov. 2. Uppal said was inspired to run largely because of the cityhood concept, which he referred to as “Buckheadistan.”

Nicolas Uppal.

“I’m worried about the direction that this district and the city may take,” Uppal said in a phone interview, adding that Buckhead cityhood and its tax implications “would negatively impact Atlanta and turn it pretty much into a war zone.”

Born in 1987, Uppal attended Inman Middle School, Midtown High and Pace Academy. He worked in personal finance for Morgan Stanley until 2011, when he was severely injured in a motorcycle accident in which he was paralyzed. He returned to Atlanta for rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Buckhead. Following his rehab, he attended graduate school at Georgia Tech, studying environmental public policy. He said he is currently unemployed.

Uppal said that through his graduate studies, “I’ve seen there are definite limits to growth, and I believe Buckhead is a microcosm of the Earth as a whole because we are on the edge, on the precipice, of going over the limit of growth.” Tree loss and other environmental impacts could lead to “dangerous imbalances” and increase crime, he said, if growth is not spread across the city.

In February 2020, Uppal contacted the Reporter and said he intended to run against Matzigkeit out of concerns about the financial status of the city and the neighborhood. But now he downplays that earlier interest, saying he “really had no qualms with Buckhead. J.P. was doing a good job at maintaining the status quo…. There was nothing I wanted to rectify.”

Uppal said he is now running largely due to the cityhood issue and concern about Norwood’s “rhetoric.” Norwood is the chair of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods and a former Post 2 At-Large councilmember.

District 8 includes the areas west of Roswell Road and west of Peachtree Road south of West Paces Ferry Road.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.