UPDATE: After this story went to press, Georgia Equality made a rare move and reversed its "favorable rating" for incumbent Lamar Willis of Atlanta City Council Post 3 At Large and fully endorsed his challenger, Andre Dickens. The story now reflects the change.
With many municipal elections taking place Nov. 5, three LGBT political groups announced their endorsements in key races in recent days based on their stances for LGBT equality.
Georgia Stonewall Democrats, Georgia Equality and Georgia Log Cabin Republicans made their endorsements in several races with weeks left before the election.
Ga. LGBT political groups announce endorsements in municipal races
Georgia Equality is endorsing two openly gay incumbents — Alex Wan of the Atlanta City Council and Brian Bates of the Doraville City Council — as well as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The group, however, opts out of backing anyone in the Atlanta City Council District 5 race in which an LGBT-friendly incumbent is being challenged by three openly gay challengers.
The state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, Georgia Equality also gives “favorable ratings” in one Atlanta City Council race to an incumbent and his challenger.
The favorable rating goes to Atlanta City Council Post 2 At Large incumbent Aaron Watson and also to his challenger, Mary Norwood.
Georgia Equality had given Lamar Willis, Atlanta City Council Post 3 At Large incumbent, a favorable rating as well as a favorable rating to his challenger, Andre Dickens. But on Oct. 10, after Willis was disbarred from by the state Supreme Court for taking financial winnings in a settlement case and depositing it in a personal account, Georgia Equality finally decided to throw its full support behind Dickens.
In a rare move @GAEquality changes it’s ratings in the Post 3 race from ‘favorable’ for both candidates to endorsement for @Andre4Atlanta
“This election cycle has been especially difficult for us in other key races, due to the exceptional commitment to LGBT rights demonstrated by both incumbents and challengers,” Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham said in a prepared statement.
The state Supreme Court on Monday ordered Lamar Willis disbarred for taking a $30,000 settlement to be paid to a child he represented in a personal injury case and depositing the money into his own personal or business account.
Georgia Equality endorsements • Alex Wan for Atlanta City Council District 6. Wan, who is openly gay, is seeking his second term to the council and faces two challengers, Tracey Austin and Mike Boyle.
Wan successfully sponsored a resolution approved unanimously by the council to publicly support marriage equality but ran afoul of some LGBT people when he sponsored legislation to rid Cheshire Bridge Road of adult entertainment clubs. His legislation, however, was eventually defeated.
Wan has also received the endorsement of the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
• Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is vying for a second term and faces no serious opposition. Reed came out in support of same-sex marriage in December after the council passed Wan’s resolution showing its support.
• Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, who served as a council member from 2001 to 2009 before being elected as president.
• Carla Smith for Atlanta City Council District 1. Smith co-sponsored the marriage equality resolution with Wan.
• Brian Bates of the Doraville City Council is vying for another term in office after being the first known openly gay Republican elected to office in Georgia in 2007. He faces one challenger, Dawn O’Connor.
• Clyde Mitchell, an East Point City Council member now running for the mayor’s seat. He is going up against incumbent Mayor Earnestine Pittman and two other candidates, Andrew Korta and Jannquell Peters.
“With a strong and growing LGBT community in the City of East Point, it is important to have a city leader who will be actively engaged with the local LGBT community and join other leaders in the metro-Atlanta region in advocating for LGBT rights,” Graham said of Mitchell.
Stonewall Dems endorse in Atlanta council, Board of Education races
The Georgia Stonewall Democrats also announced their slate of endorsements and chose to support Andre Dickens in his challenge to incumbent Lamar Willis in the Atlanta City Council Post 3 At Large race.
The race between Willis and Dickens is an especially heated one with Dickens launching a www.lamarwillisshakedown.com website where he attacks the incumbent for his “shady dealings” including accusing Willis of creating a fake charity. Willis in turn struck back Oct. 4 with a statement to Creative Loafing saying Dickens was guilty of “blatant hypocrisy.”
“It is rare that organizations such as Georgia Stonewall endorse a challenger, and we do not take this endorsement lightly,” said Tim Cairl, president of the Stonewall Democrats, in a statement.
“Andre is a breath of fresh air to Atlanta City Council politics. With a strong sense of integrity, a full grasp of what it means to be ethical and open in all matters both personal and public, and a genuine desire to improve the lives of everyone in our city, Andre Dickens has duly earned the endorsement of Georgia Stonewall Democrats.”
The Stonewall Democrats are also backing incumbent Aaron Watson over Mary Norwood.
Norwood previously held the Post 2 seat, which is elected citywide, before deciding to run for mayor four years ago. She narrowly lost to Kasim Reed in a runoff election, but won a majority of votes in District 6, home to the city’s largest concentration of gay voters. At the time, Reed did not support allowing gay couples to marry, although he has since changed his mind and now backs marriage equality.
“In 2009, Stonewall Democrats endorsed Aaron Watson for city council based upon his strong support for expanded transportation and his knowledge of budgeting and finance, and Councilman Watson has not disappointed in these areas of policy,” Cairl said.
Watson was also a co-sponsor of the Marriage Equality Resolution passed by the Atlanta City Council, he added.
Other Stonewall Democrats endorsements • Alex Wan for Atlanta City Council District 6
“In 2009, Stonewall Democrats endorsed Alex Wan for City Council indicating he would be a strong advocate for the diverse neighborhoods in District 6. And while we do not always agree with his proposals, there is no denying that Councilman Wan is dedicated to the causes in which he believes,” Cairl said. Cairl also praised Wan for the marriage equality resolution that was signed by the mayor.
• Kasim Reed for Mayor
• Ceasar Mitchell for Atlanta City Council President
• Michael Julian Bond for Atlanta City Council Post 1 At-Large
• Carla Smith for Atlanta City Council District 1
• Kwanza Hall for Atlanta City Council District 2
• Felicia Moore for Atlanta City Council District 9
• Keisha Lance-Bottoms for Atlanta City Council District 11 • Brenda Muhammad for Atlanta Board of Education District 1
• Jason Esteves for Atlanta Board of Education District 9 At-Large
Georgia Log Cabin Republican endorsements In the Atlanta City Council District 5 race, LGBT ally and incumbent Natalyn Archibong faces opposition from three openly gay candidates: Christian Enterkin, Jon Jones and Matt Rinker.
Rinker, a Democrat, is endorsed by the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans.
“We’re proud to publicly endorse Matt Rinker for Atlanta City Council for a myriad of reasons, but primarily because Matt is a fresh new voice dedicated to making Atlanta an even better place to live and work for all of us,” said Jamie Ensley, president of the Georgia Chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, in a statement.
“Matt’s business background makes him uniquely qualified to focus on bringing more good companies to Atlanta, and we know he will be an independent, common-sense voice who will focus on making our neighborhoods safer, improve our roads and sidewalks, and improving the qualify of life across the board for all of us,” Ensley said.
Other LCR endorsements:
• Ceasar Mitchell for Atlanta City Council President • Alex Wan for Atlanta City Council District 6 • Mary Norwood for Atlanta City Council Post 2 At Large. Log Cabin Republican President Jamie Ensley is Norwood’s treasurer. • Brian Bates for Doraville City Council