Graham said Georgia Equality is still accepting surveys from judicial candidates and statewide candidates in certain races and will make additional endorsements in the near future.
All information about the candidates is taken from the Georgia Equality press release announcing its endorsements:
Joan Garner: District 6 – Fulton County Commission
“I am honored and humbled to have the early support of Georgia Equality, which serves an important function for the LGBT community and for the community at large,” says Garner in a statement, who is running for the seat currently held by Nancy Boxill, who after 23 years on the Commission has announced her decision not to seek a sixth term. “This endorsement recognizes that my work with the LGBT community and broader communities can be extended, representing all of us in addressing the crucial issues of Fulton County, including public safety, public health, transportation and more.”
Joan Garner is a long-time community leader and non-profit executive. In addition to her non-profit leadership career within organizations supporting social justice, Garner’s more than 20-year civic resume includes 12 years of direct service to Fulton County, on the boards of the Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library, the Library’s Foundation and on the Fulton County Arts Council (on which she continues to serve). As long ago as 1989 she served on the transition team for Mayor-elect Maynard Jackson, who later appointed Garner a senior adviser on gay and lesbian issues; in doing so, he set a precedent of gay community input directly at the mayoral level. Recently, she advised Mayor Kasim Reed’s transition efforts.
“One of the reasons I entered this race is to ensure that this diverse community continues to prosper,” Garner said in the release, “and that it does so with the active participation of people from all walks of life across District 6 and beyond. I look forward to accomplishing that in partnership with Georgia Equality.”
A Washington, DC, native, Garner has been in Atlanta since 1978, making her home in various neighborhoods across the district. She now resides in the historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood with her partner of 11 years.
Garner defeated Keisha Waites in a runoff for this seat in the Democratic primary and faces no Republican opposition on Nov. 2. She will become the first openly gay Fulton County Commissioner.
Maryline Blackburn: State House District 34
Maryline Blackburn has lived in Georgia for the past 24 years. She has volunteered with organizations such as Go Red for Women, Atlanta Interfaith AIDS Alliance, Lifespan Senior Resources, March of Dimes, Smyrna Senior Citizens, Chastain Horse Park Therapeutic Program, Habitat of Georgia, Hands on Atlanta, Red Cross and many others. She has worked in sales, marketing, management fields and is currently recording her fourth album.
In 1984, she competed in and won the Miss Alaska Pageant where Sarah Palin was the second runner-up. Maryline then went on to represent Alaska in the Miss America Scholarship Pageant, where she won a finalist talent award and was asked to tour with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the USO, featuring Bob Hope.
Stacey Evans: State House District 40
“I am thrilled to receive the endorsement of Georgia Equality and I’m proud to stand with them as we work toward equality for all Georgians,” Evans said in a statement. Evans was born and raised in Ringgold, Ga., and was the first person in her family to graduate from college and earned both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Georgia. Stacey is a litigation attorney with Bryan Cave Powell Goldstein and lives in Smyrna with her husband, Andrew.
She is chair of the Georgia High School Mock Trial Competition and is a member of the Board of Directors of Communities in Schools Marietta/Cobb County and the Cobb Library Foundation. She is also a state committee member of the Democratic Party of Georgia, a member of the Cobb County Democratic Party and the Cobb County Democratic Women, immediate Past Chair of Georgia’s WIN List, a past president of the Young Democrats of Georgia, and a former Board member of Red Clay Democrats.
She is a member of LEAD Atlanta Class of 2007, the Georgia State Bar Young Lawyers Division Leadership Academy Class of 2007, and the Atlanta Women’s Foundation Destiny Fund Class of 2006. In 2004, Stacey was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in its article, “Up and Comers/Under 40 and Rising: 50 of Atlanta’s Most Promising Young Stars” and is a member of the Class of 2008 of Outstanding Atlanta.
“Stacey is running for office because Georgia families deserve a Legislature that puts them first and shares their priorities to protect and create jobs and improve the State’s education and transportation systems and she promises to make these her priorities in the Legislature,” the press release states.
Darshun Kendrick: State House District 94
Dar’shun Kendrick was born in Atlanta and raised in South DeKalb County. She attended DeKalb County public schools and graduated from Towers High School in Decatur in 2000 at the top of her class. During that time, she interned part-time for then-Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney at her district office in downtown Decatur. After graduation from Towers, she attended Oglethorpe University on a partial scholarship and double majored in political science and communications, graduating cum laude in 2004.
She attended the University of Georgia School of Law and obtained her law degree from that university in May of 2007. She passed the Georgia bar in November of 2007 and began working as a civil litigator at a small downtown Atlanta law firm. She is the communications director for Young Democrats of DeKalb and is now the owner of Kendrick Law Practice based in Lithonia where she practices business law exclusively. She is actively involved in the business community in DeKalb and Rockdale counties.
Recently she has been working with Lithonia city council members and local business owners to revitalize the Lithonia Business Association. Additionally she works with the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce to service business owners. She is a member of the DeKalb Chamber, DeKalb Bar Association, Georgia Association of Black Woman Attorneys, and Decatur Business Association. She has been a Member of Divine Faith Ministries International, located in Jonesboro.
Steffini Bethea: State Senate District 106
Steffini Bethea attended the University of Houston where she majored in biology and has lived in Gwinnett County for more than 10 years.
She worked over 10 years in pharmaceutical sales, culminating as a manager of multiple sales territories in the Metro Atlanta area. In 2004 she went into business full time with her husband, Dr. Sheldon Bethea, and opened Chirofit Wellness in Snellville. Together they have been guest speakers on health and fitness issues and participate in numerous community and national programs. “As joint owner of a small business, Steffini has a unique understanding of the hard work and dedication it takes to build a business and the need to have support for entrepreneurs,” according to the press release.
Bethea lives in the Dogwood Plantation neighborhood in Snellville. She has four children, Yasi 18, Andrew 16, Nilou 12, and Sara-Elisabeth 5.
She served as president of the League of Women Voters of Gwinnett County and was a research intern at the State Capitol. She is also an active Public Policy Committee member for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. She was an elected delegate to the Presidential Nominating Convention in Denver in 2008. She and her family are members of New Mercies Christian Church in Lilburn.
Georgia Equality supports these incumbents:
John Eaves: Chairman Fulton County Commission
“I am honored to receive the Endorsement of Georgia Equality. As a county and a state, we are strengthened by our diversity, and I will continue to do all I can to support the LGBTQ community,” said Eaves in a statement.
As chairman of the Fulton County Commission, Eaves chairs a commission comprised of seven members who govern the county. Fulton County is comprised of 14 municipalities and is the most populated county in Georgia, serving as home to an estimated population of 1.1 million residents. The 2010 operating budget is $908 million.
He is a graduate of Morehouse College with a major in mathematics and earned a master’s degree in Religion from Yale University and a doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina.
Prior to becoming chairman of the Fulton County Commission, Eaves served as Senior Program Officer of the Southern Education Foundation. For seven years Eaves led the Atlanta Regional Office of the Peace Corps as a regional manager. Under his leadership, the Atlanta office moved up from the rank of 10th in volunteer recruitment to fourth.
While attending Morehouse College, he was a program coordinator and big brother for Volunteers for Youth, an organization that paired college athletes with middle school youth. He also registered people to vote, volunteered in local political campaigns, was a coach tutor and a counselor for Upward Bound at Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University.
Mike Jacobs: State House District 80
During the 2010 legislative session, state Rep. Jacobs authored and passed a stronger anti-bullying statute and was instrumental in passing legislation that will allow gay and lesbian couples to make medical decisions for their partners. Jacobs also sponsored a successful amendment that allows partners who are named in an advance medical directive the rights to hospital visitation and to ride along in an ambulance in an emergency. For these efforts, Georgia Equality awarded Mike its Allen Thornell Political Advancement Award earlier this year.
Jacobs has pledged to fight any effort to ban adoptions by gay and lesbian couples. “I will not hesitate to stand in front of that train,” he said.
“Mike, a Republican, has been a stalwart ally of the LGBT community,” according to the press release.
He is serving his third term in the Georgia House of Representatives. His committee assignments are Insurance, Judiciary, MARTA Oversight, and Rules. He is the Vice Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and chairs one of its two subcommittees.
Jacobs received his law degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law, where he served as Executive Articles Editor of the Georgia Law Review. Mike earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.
He and his wife, Evan, live in northern DeKalb County between Brookhaven, Chamblee and Dunwoody. They have two children and are expecting their third in February.
Stephanie Stuckey Benfield: Sate House District 85
Stephanie Stuckey Benfield currently represents House District 85, which includes neighborhoods in Avondale Estates, Candler Road, Columbia Drive, Fernbank, Forest Hills, Knollwood, Midway, Oakhurst, South Decatur, Wadsworth and Winona Park.
Stephanie was a partner and family law practitioner in the Decatur law firm of Stuckey and Manheimer, LLC until the birth of her son in 2002, when she took a break from the law to be a stay-at-home mom. Prior to starting her own practice, she was a public defender. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Georgia in 1989 and graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1992.
Her father, Billy Stuckey, represented the 8th District of Georgia for 10 years in the U.S. Congress, and her grandfather, Williamson Sylvester Stuckey, served in the Georgia Legislature and founded the Stuckey’s candy store chain which is still a family owned and operated business.
She is married to Robert H. Benfield, Jr., a local trial attorney. They are active members of Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the Emory campus where they were married. She and her husband are the proud parents of a 4-year old son, Robert, and a 20-month old daughter, Beverly.
Curt Thompson: State Sentate District 5
Curt Thompson is a life-long resident of Gwinnett County. Born in Decatur, Ga., in 1968, his family lived in Lilburn near Lake Lucerne, and he graduated from Shiloh High School in Lithonia. After law school, he moved to Norcross. In April of 2006, Curt was married to his wife Sascha. They currently live in the Gwinnett portion of Tucker.
At Shiloh High, Curt was a National Merit Scholar. He went to American University in Washington, D.C., majoring in International Studies and Broadcast Journalism. After graduating, Curt went to law school at Georgia State. He passed the Bar in 1993 and has practiced law since then, representing government employees (including firefighters and police) and service workers. Curt currently practices law in Tucker serving a variety of business and private clients with a focus on administrative and corporate law.
Thompson has been active in civic affairs as varied as his neighborhood garden club, petitioning for speed bumps, and opposition to certain re-zoning applications. He worships at Chattahoochee Friends Meeting in Norcross and All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Other affiliations include Gwinnett County Habitat for Humanity, the Sierra Club, Norcross Cooperative Ministries, AID Gwinnett, and the Gwinnett Philharmonic.
He has long been involved in the Gwinnett County chapter of the Democratic Party of Georgia. He ran for office in 2002 and won for the then newly-created District 69. In 2004 he ran for the state Senate, District 5. In both campaigns his message to voters was, “Your Voice Counts!”
State Sen. Thompson is a member of numerous committees in the Georgia Senate including the Committees for Appropriations, Special Judiciary, Economic Development and Defense and Military Affairs.
He currently serves as the president of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement Association; the group’s goal is to form a community improvement district to promote revitalization efforts in the Jimmy Carter Blvd., Indian Trail, and Buford Highway corridors. He hosts an open-invitation monthly gathering called the “Citizen Advisory Forum,” allowing members of his community and others to communicate with him directly, regarding issues which most matter to them. In addition, Thompson has learned to speak Spanish to help better serve the Spanish speaking members of his district.
Steve Henson: State Senate District 41
State Sen. Steve Henson is a Democrat representing State Senate District 41 since 2003 and formally represented Senate District 55 from 1991-1999.
He holds the position of Secretary of the Special Judiciary Committee. He is also a member of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Natural Resources and the Environment, and Health and Human Services Committees. Sen. Henson has the distinction of being the past Chair of the DeKalb Democratic Party.
A DeKalb resident for over 30 years, Henson graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelors degree in Economics. He is a vocational administrator and teacher at Henson Training Institute and an officer and member of numerous community and civic organizations such as: Tucker Jaycees, Stone Mountain Exchange Club, DeKalb Lung Association, League of Women Voters, PRISM, Georgia Advisory Council for the Mentally Ill, Georgia Epilepsy Board and others.