As the days dwindle to Election Day on Nov. 7, voters across Georgia — and especially in the city of Atlanta — are faced with choosing among a dizzying number of candidates in numerous races on the municipal, county and statewide level.
There is plenty at stake, including seven seats in the state Legislature. The city of Atlanta government is facing an overhaul not seen in years — come January, the city will have a new mayor, a new City Council president and at least half of the Atlanta City Council will be comprised of new faces.
A good bit of LGBT history is at stake as well. The city of Atlanta could have its first openly LGBT mayor, the Atlanta City Council could have the first openly LGBT Muslim elected in the U.S. and the Fulton County Commission and/or state House District 60 could have the first openly LGBT African-American man elected in Georgia (former state Rep. Rashad Taylor, a gay African-American man, was outed in office in 2011 and did not win reelection).
Local and national LGBT groups Georgia Equality, Georgia Log Cabin Republicans, Georgia Stonewall Democrats, the Human Rights Campaign and the Victory Fund have weighed in with their endorsements, and we take a look at the races involving the 13 LGBT candidates in this year’s elections.
With eight viable candidates running for Atlanta mayor and ever-shifting poll numbers, there aren’t many certainties in this race, but if everyone involved agreed on one thing, it would be that it’s likely no one candidate will get the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win outright on Nov. 7 and that this race will go to a runoff to be decided Dec. 5.
The question of who those two candidates will be has led to more and more contentiousness in recent weeks as opponents see the days running out on their campaigns.
Former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard, the first openly LGBT elected official in Georgia, nabbed the endorsements of Georgia Equality, the Human Rights Campaign and the Victory Fund. Georgia Stonewall Democrats have yet to announce their choice and appear to be waiting to see if the race goes to a runoff before weighing in.
“The abundance of energetic and engaged candidates, presents understandably tough decisions for us and for voters,” the group said in a statement. “Since we’ve endorsed a number of the candidates in the past and watched many of them grow and form deep attachments to the constituents they serve, we have decided to continue to monitor the campaigns and messaging and consider any new information that may arise before reaching a final decision.”
Meanwhile, the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans split its vote, avoiding LGBT candidates Woolard and political newcomer Laban King and going with Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood.
Atlanta City Council
Three City Council veterans face off in the race for president: C.T. Martin, Felicia Moore and Alex Wan, who was elected in 2009 and became the first Asian-American member and first openly gay man on the Council. Wan received the backing of Georgia Equality, Georgia Stonewall Democrats, the Human Rights Campaign and the Victory Fund, while Moore got the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement.
In other Atlanta City Council races, queer Muslim business owner Liliana Bakhtiari can make history with a win in District 5, which would make her the first openly LGBT Muslim elected in the U.S. Bakhtiari received the endorsements of Georgia Equality, Georgia Stonewall Democrats and the Victory Fund, while opponent David Orland Brown got the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement.
Gay federal program reviewer Bill Powell is running in District 1, but his incumbent opponent Carla Smith has the backing of Georgia Equality and Georgia Stonewall Democrats. And gay realtor Kirk Rich has the backing of Georgia Equality, Georgia Log Cabin Republicans and the Victory Fund in District 6 while his opponent Jennifer Ide got a nod from Georgia Stonewall Democrats. Gay Inman Middle School teacher Lock Whiteside was also in the District 6 contest but dropped out in May.
Fulton County Commission
Lesbian Georgia state Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta) left the state Legislature to run for Fulton County Commission Chair. Waites, who got endorsements from Georgia Equality and Georgia Stonewall Democrats, is up against former Fulton County Commissioner and Atlanta City Councilman Rob Pitts and Sandy Springs City Councilman Gabriel Sterling.
And in the District 4 race for the late Joan Garner’s seat, two gay men are among the six candidates facing off against each other. Reese McCranie, former deputy director of communications for Mayor Kasim Reed and current director of policy and communications for Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, nabbed the Georgia Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement. And neighborhood activist Josh McNair received the endorsements of Georgia Equality and the Victory Fund.
Other Races of Note
Openly gay former teacher Charlie Stadtlander is running for Atlanta School Board in the At-Large Seat 8 position. He’s trying to unseat incumbent Cynthia Briscoe Brown, who received the endorsement of Georgia Stonewall Democrats. Stadtlander filed an ethics complaint against Brown alleging “numerous charges of misconduct” but the complaint was dismissed by the board’s ethics commission earlier this month.
The Doraville City Council could have two LGBT faces join its ranks, as gay civic activist Joseph Geierman is running in District 2 and transgender woman Stephe Koontz is running in District 3. Both received endorsements from Georgia Equality.
The race for state Senate District 6 hit the headlines earlier this month when Georgia Voice broke the story uncovering anti-LGBT and misogynistic Facebook posts by Vinings pediatric dentist Jaha Howard, a Democrat. Howard apologized but appeared to double down on his initial comments, and he refused calls for him to drop out of the race. Attention quickly turned to one of his opponents, Jen Jordan — an attorney who nabbed the endorsements of Georgia Equality and Georgia Stonewall Democrats.
Openly gay civic activist DeAundre Pickett is running in state House District 60 to replace lesbian state Rep. Keisha Waites. Pickett received the endorsements of Georgia Equality and Georgia Stonewall Democrats.
To view a sample ballot and find early voting locations and your Election Day voting location, go to www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
The following are the Georgia candidates who received endorsements from Georgia Equality (GE), Georgia Log Cabin Republicans (GLCR), Georgia Stonewall Democrats (GSD), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and/or the Victory Fund (VF). Openly LGBT candidates are noted with an asterisk.
Georgia State Senate
District 6: Jen Jordan (GE, GSD)
District 39: Nikema Williams (GE)
Georgia State House
District 60: De’Andre Pickett* (GE, GSD)
District 89: Bee Nguyen (GE, GSD)
District 119: Jonathan Wallace (GSD)
Fulton County Commission
Commission Chair: Keisha Waites* (GE, GSD)
Commission District 4: Reese McCranie* (GSD), Josh McNair* (GE, VF)
Ceasar Mitchell (GLCR), Mary Norwood (GLCR), Cathy Woolard* (GE, HRC, VF)
Atlanta City Council
City Council President: Felicia Moore (GLCR), Alex Wan* (GE, GSD, GLCR, VF)
City Council District 1: Carla Smith (GE, GSD)
City Council District 2: Amir Farokhi (GE, GSD, GLCR)
City Council District 4: Jason Dozier (GSD)
City Council District 5: Liliana Bakhtiari* (GE, GSD, VF), David Orland Brown (GLCR)
City Council District 6: Jennifer Ide (GSD), Kirk Rich* (GE, GLCR, VF)
City Council District 7: Howard Shook (I) (GE)
City Council District 8: Anna Tillman (GE)
City Council District 9: Dustin Hillis (GSD)
City Council District 10: Andrea Boone (GE)
City Council District 12: Joyce Sheperd (GE)
City Council Post 1 At-Large: Courtney English (GE, GSD)
City Council Post 2 At-Large: Cory Ruth (GLCR), Matt Westmoreland (GE, GSD)
City Council Post 3 At-Large: Andre Dickens (GSD)
Atlanta School Board
District 1: Leslie Grant (GE)
District 2: Tony Burks (GE)
District 6: Eshe’ Collins (GE)
District 7: Kandis Wood Jackson (GE)
At-Large Seat 8: Cynthia Briscoe Brown (GSD)
At Large Seat 9: Jason Esteves (GSD)
Ted Terry (GE)
Clarkston City Council
City Council: YT Bell (GSD)
City Council: Laura Hopkins (GSD)
City Council (Special Election): Andrea Cervone (GSD)
Doraville City Council
District 2: Joseph Geierman* (GE)
District 3: Stephe Koontz* (GE)
Sandy Springs City Council
District 4: Le’Dor Milteer (GSD)