Lesbian and social activist seeks Fulton County Commission District 6 seat

Joan Garner, an open lesbian and a long-time community leader and non-profit executive, announced officially today she seeking the Fulton County District 6 seat www.GarnerforCommissioner.com. If elected, she would the first openly gay person elected to the commission.

“Seeking public office is a natural progression for me,” Garner said in an April 5 press release. The primary for the election is July 20 with the general election on Nov. 2.

“From growing up during the dawn of the civil rights era, to a 20-year career in non-profits and as an active champion of social justice issues, I’ve always seen my vocation and my community service as one. There is essentially no difference for me. Serving my neighbors of District 6 as a Fulton County Commissioner would allow me to even better support the communities in which I so strongly believe.”

Joan Garner (Photo via Facebook)

The seat encompasses portions of the central and eastern sections of the City of Atlanta, including Thomasville Heights, Grant Park, Reynoldstown, Downtown, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Midtown, Virginia-Highland, Morningside, Ansley Park and Lindridge-Martin Manor.

Nancy Boxill currently holds the seat and after 23 years on the commission announced she is not seeking a sixth term.

Garner is a Washington, D.C., native, but has lived in Atlanta since 1978, making her home in various neighborhoods across the district. Garner now lives in the historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood with her partner of 11 years.

“One of the reasons I entered this race is to ensure that this diverse community continues to prosper and that it does so with the active participation of people from all walks of life across District 6 and beyond,” Garner said.

“I want to serve as a good fiscal steward for the people of Fulton County, including helping our governments and municipalities live within their means, while still providing crucial services, and doing so efficiently and effectively,” Garner added.

“For instance, we must be vigilant about public safety, from reducing opportunities for crime to code enforcement issues.”

Garner is already receiving backing from leaders in Atlanta’s gay community.

“I’m excited about the prospect of helping Joan become the next Fulton County Commissioner for District 6,” said Ken Britt, who is the retired executive director of Alston & Bird, LLP, and who is serving as treasurer for Garner’s county commission bid.

“I have known Joan for many years and she has always been someone on top of my list of potential candidates.”

Britt, who served as the Chair of Alex Wan’s successful campaign for Atlanta City Council, District 6, said Joan’s not-for-profit management experience and her years of service in the community make her an ideal candidate for the Fulton Commission.

“Those of us acquainted with Joan know her to be smart, dedicated, well- grounded, hardworking and fair-minded. She is a consensus builder with a proven track record who can bring people together in an effective way, and will help lead Fulton County successfully forward,” Britt said.

Garner is a graduate of the University of District Columbia where she received a bachelor’s degree in English and Howard University where she received a master’s degree in organizational communication.

She founded Garner Results, Inc., a consultancy that develops giving strategies and provides management support to the non-profit and philanthropic communities.

Garner’s past positions include serving as president and CEO of the Historic District Development Corporation, a community-based, nonprofit organization that facilitates the preservation and revitalization of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic District and other historic/preservation communities. She was also executive director of the Southern Partners Fund, a community-based public foundation committed to equal rights.

Garner has also served as co-director of the National Network of Grantmakers, which supports social justice work; and as executive director of the Fund for Southern Communities, which works for social change in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Last year she served as chair of City of Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) M and in 1989 served on the transition team for Mayor-elect Maynard Jackson. Jackson later appointed Garner a senior adviser on gay and lesbian issues. With Jackson’s appointment of Garner as senior adviser on gay and lesbian issues, he set a precedent of gay community input directly at the mayoral level.

Garner’s community service resume also includes serving on the boards of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Foundation, the Atlanta-Fulton County Library, the Metro Atlanta United Way, the Historic District Development Corporation, the Fulton County Arts Council, the Metropolitan Atlanta Community Development Corporation, the Atlanta Beltline Housing Advisory Board, and Caring Works, Inc.

She is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta (1997) and the Gill Foundation Leadership Program (2000), and received the Human Rights Campaign Fund’s Community Leadership Award in 1992. The YWCA of Metro Atlanta recognized her in its 2003 Salute Academy of Women Achievers; the National Trust for Historic Preservation followed suit in 2007 through its Diversity Scholarship Program. In 2008, Garner completed Georgia Stand Up’s Policy Institute for Civic Leadership.

Garner is also co-author of “Robin Hood was Right: A Guide to Giving Your Money to Social Change.” Follow Garner on Twitter: @Garner4Results or contact her campaign at 404-494-0283. Email her at info@garnerforcommissioner.com and her website is www.GarnerforCommissioner.com. Garner also has a Facebook page.