Joan Garner, a longtime social justice and LGBT activist, qualified as a Democrat to run for the seat during last week’s qualifying period.

Georgia Equality, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group, endorsed Garner last month. Garner also recently announced she has set up her campaign headquarters in the district’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood at Studioplex.


Also qualifying for the Fulton District 6 post as a Democrat is Keisha Waites, a lesbian who has a long record of unsuccessful bids for elected office.

Waites qualified on Friday, the last day to do so, and said she was approached by others about running for the seat. Waites works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“I feel I am a good steward to the community and I got a number of calls asking if I was running,” Waites said today. “I have great respect for Joan Garner and am honored to be on the ballot with her.”

Should either Garner or Waites win, she would be the first openly gay representative on the Fulton County Commission.

In 2001, Waites – who went by Sean instead of Keisha on the ballot at that time – ran for the at-large Post 1 seat on the Atlanta City Council.

In 2002, she ran for State Senate District 36, placing fourth in the Democratic primary.

In 2004, she was one of four candidates who applied to temporarily fill the Atlanta City Council District 12 seat, but council members did not pick her for post.

Waites then ran for the Atlanta City Council in 2005 and ran for Fulton County Commission chair in 2006.

She ran for State House District 61 in 2008 and received the endorsement of Georgia Equality in that race. Waites again ran for Atlanta City Council in 2009.

“I’m proud of every race I’ve been in and I believe it shows I’m committed to the process and have a strong desire to serve,” she said.

An internet search found only Waites’ website for her 2009 run for Atlanta City Council, www.keishawaites.com. Waites said her new website for the Fulton Commission office would be up and running next Monday.

“It’s important we have a person committed to working with gays and straights in the community and I think I bring that,” Waites added. “I’m interested in one Fulton County and keeping taxes low and better delivery of services.”

Also qualifying to run for the Fulton District 6 seat as Democrats are Sally A. Smith and David Holder, said Dwight Bowers, elections chief for Fulton County. No information such as occupation was available on these candidates, Bowers said.

The four candidates will face off in the July 20 primary. A candidate must receive 50 percent plus one to win an election. If no one receives that amount there will be a runoff on Aug. 10, according to the Fulton County Department of Registrations and Elections.

 

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