Atlanta City Council candidate alleges violation of free speech rights

Matthew Cardinale, one of City Hall’s most vocal regulars as a journalist and citizen activist from Atlanta Progressive News, is making his exit from Atlanta politics to study law in Oregon after challenging the city numerous times on open meetings laws, Monday, July 15, 2013, in Atlanta. David Tulis / AJC Special

Matthew Cardinale, a frequent Atlanta City Hall critic, has alleged in a lawsuit filed Friday that the city clerk and elections supervisor violated his first amendment rights when he ran for a council seat last year.

Cardinale was among 10 candidates who ran for the District 3 seat in March. The seat became vacant when longtime Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr. died in late 2018.

Cardinale says in the suit that during a candidate briefing in January, 2019, that City Clerk Foris Webb III told the candidates they were prohibited from identifying themselves as candidates during the public comments portion of council meetings.

Webb told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday that he merely cautioned the candidates against identifying themselves as candidates during public comment because the city televises the meetings and it could be considered using city resources for campaign purposes, which is prohibited under city code.

Cardinale finished fourth in the race.

The seat was eventually won in an April run-off by Councilman Antonio Brown.

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