A special election will take place on Jan. 19 to decide who replaces lesbian former Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) in House District 58. Joining Former state Rep. Ralph Long (D-Atlanta) and attorney Kwame Thompson in the race is political newcomer Park Cannon, a queer 24-year-old women’s wellness advocate for the Feminist Women’s Health Center.
Bell called Cannon soon after she decided to resign, encouraging her to make a run for the seat.
“One of the things that was really important to me was to think about what’s missing in the chamber and what’s missing in the conversations, what’s missing in a seat for someone who can actually vote?,” Bell says. “That’s how I started thinking about who would be a particularly good person in this position. And when I called Park I thought about reproductive justice and what she could bring to that conversation.”
Cannon, who scored an endorsement from the Victory Fund on Tuesday, stresses that while she’s new to politics, she’s not new to policy. She cites education, jobs and health care (specifically Medicaid expansion) as some of the issues of importance to her. And should Cannon win on Jan. 19, it will be another voice added to the mix in opposition to RFRA.
“I do see the possibility of discrimination if there is a bill passed into law that speaks about the importance of an institution without directly addressing the ability to discriminate,” she says. “There has to be a nondiscrimination clause.”
Cannon’s election would be historic in that she would be the first openly queer-identified individual in the state legislature.
“I identify as queer, which is different from lesbian,” she stresses. “I identify as a person who is carrying with me at all times genderqueer people, asexual people, transgender individuals. That is very different and that is a good thing here in the state of Georgia. As a person who is outspoken about myself and outspoken about my truth, I hope to bring healing to people. I hope to bring excitement to our community who is marginalized and underrepresented.”
Cannon says her campaign has raised $10,000 from over 90 donors, has $15,000 in pledges and has a fundraising goal of $50,000.
Dec. 23 update: Georgia Equality announced they have endorsed Cannon as well.