Mixed results for gay candidates in Ga. races

At least five openly gay candidates were on the ballot in municipal races around Georgia yesterday. Based on unofficial results from county election boards, at least one has won outright, a Savannah hopeful and a Milton incumbent were defeated, a gay incumbent in East Point faces a runoff, and another East Point hopeful barely missed a runoff vote.

One lesbian incumbent became officially victorious as soon as polls closed at 7 p.m.Tuesday. Decatur City Commissioner Kecia Cunningham, who was first elected in 1999 and was the first African-American openly gay elected official in Georgia, ran unopposed this election cycle, securing her another term serving District 2, Post B, in the gay-popular Atlanta suburb.

Cunningham is one of at least 12 openly gay elected officials currently serving around the state.


In a race closely watched by gay political advocates around the country, Pam Miller hoped to be the first openly gay candidate elected in Savannah. Her race against incumbent Mary Ellen Sprague in District 4 of the Savannah City Council garnered enough attention to be considered one of the Victory Fund’s “Top 10 Races to Watch” on Nov. 8.

Miller was endorsed by Georgia Equality and the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

But with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Miller had 36.91 percent of the vote compared to 62.86 for Sprague, according to unofficial results from the Chatham County Board of Elections.


In north Fulton County, gay Milton City Council member Alan Tart faced Lance Large on Tuesday’s ballot for the council’s District 6 seat.

Tart, who was seeking his second term on the council, has been open about his family during his previous campaign and in his biography on the Milton City Council website, but was not known to gay political groups until earlier this summer.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Tart had 43.07 percent of the vote, compared to 56.61 for Large.

East Point

Two openly gay candidates were on the ballot in the Atlanta suburb of East Point.

Lance Rhodes, who has served two terms on the East Point Council representing Ward B, faced two challengers: Marie T. Williams and Karen Rene.

Rhodes was endorsed by LGBT political group Georgia Equality for the third time and also received the endorsement of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund for the third time.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Rhodes had 49.57 percent of the vote, compared to 45.26 for Rene and 4.96 for Wiliams, according to unofficial results from the Fulton County Board of Elections.

Under Georgia law, if no candidate in a race receives 50 percent plus one vote, the top two compete in a runoff.

Kenneth DeLeon, also gay, sought election to the East Point City Council representing Ward C. He ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2009. He faced incumbent Myron B. Cook while Nanette Saucier was the third candidate in that race.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, DeLeon had 37.46 percent of the vote, compared to 50.94 percent for Cook and 11.12 for Saucier.


Top photo: Kenneth DeLeon (courtesy photo)