From left: Kasim Reed, Felicia Moore, and Andre Dickens share their stances on LGBTQ issues / Photos courtesy of respective campaigns

Top Atlanta Mayoral Candidates Reveal How They Would Tackle LGBTQ Issues

LGBTQ voters are expected to play a central role in the November 2 election to decide who will be Atlanta’s next mayor to lead the city as it continues to recover from the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and the racial reckoning demanded by the Black Lives Matter movement.

There are more than 8,500 same-sex couples living in Fulton and DeKalb counties, where Atlanta is located, according to the most recent data from the Williams Institute, the leading research center on sexual orientation and gender identity and public policy. The past two mayoral elections were decided by less than 1,000 votes.

Atlanta’s 61st mayor will set the tone and guide policy on LGBTQ issues such as investigating hate crimes against Black transgender women, LGBTQ youth homelessness, and funding agencies that provide housing to those living with HIV/AIDS. The mayor will also do so on land use and zoning, economic development, public safety, gentrification, transportation, historic preservation, parks and green spaces — issues important to all those living in the city of nearly 525,000.

There are 16 candidates running for mayor in the general election. The Georgia Voice asked the top five mayoral candidates, according to fundraising, to answer LGBTQ-specific questions. Those who replied were City Councilmember Andre Dickens, City Council President Felicia Moore and former mayor Kasim Reed. Councilmember Antonio Brown and Sharon Gay, a development attorney, did not respond.

Other mayoral candidates are Kirsten Dunn, Nolan English, Mark Hammad, Kenny Hill, Rebecca King, Walter Reeves, Roosevelt Searles III, Richard Wright, Glenn Wrightson and write-in candidates Brandon Adkins and Henry Anderson.

Early voting is taking place in DeKalb and Fulton counties through Oct. 29. If no candidate receives 50% plus one of the vote, a run-off will be held November 30.


Andre Dickens

Dickens was elected in 2013 to the Post 3 at-large seat on the City Council.


What are the key issues that LGBTQ Atlantans are facing that you plan to address if elected? How do you plan to address these issues?

The most significant issue of late has been the failure of the City of Atlanta to appropriately handle the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS funds. It is incumbent upon the city to ensure it is upholding its financial obligations as it relates to HOPWA. This summer, I met with the co-chairs of the mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee to understand what has and has not been done on HOPWA so that we can better map a path forward. When I am mayor, I will assign a lawyer from the city’s legal department to the HOPWA Advisory Committee. This person will be tasked with identifying other legal resources (Atlanta Legal Aid, pro bono help from law firms, etc.) that can help do a deep dive into the HOPWA regulations and processes to determine where the bottlenecks are and how to fix them.

In addition, Atlanta is facing an HIV epidemic. Atlanta needs to face this crisis head-on. We’ve come a long way in the fight against HIV, but there is still a long way to go. It will take a collaborative approach and require us to work together with all stakeholders — health departments, community leaders, non-profits, and service providers. To that end, as mayor, I would hire a Director of HIV Prevention who would collaborate with each of these groups and focus on coordinating our efforts to ensure easy access to testing, preventive measures (PReP), and continual care for those who are HIV-positive.

As we are dealing with violent crime in Atlanta, we must address the disproportionate rates of violent crime targeted toward the LGBTQ community, especially toward Black trans women. The city is already creating an Office of Violence Prevention, and I will make sure that violence prevention against trans women is included in that work. I will also focus on economic and workforce development initiatives for the LGBTQ community, in particular trans people. Improving economic opportunities and reducing homelessness will help reduce violence by allowing trans people, in particular trans youth, the opportunity to live in safe housing conditions. Finally, I will expand the education mandate of the LGBTQ Advisory Board to help improve educational opportunities for LGBTQ issues throughout the city.


Do you plan on maintaining the LGBTQ Advisory Board that Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms established? If not, how will you keep informed on the needs of LGBTQ Atlantans?

First, as mayor, I would ensure that I am engaging with all parts of the city and with the LGBTQ community specifically. Listening first is something I’ve made a priority in my time on council, and I plan to continue that as mayor. In addition, it is important to continue the work that has been started at City Hall through the Mayor’s LGBTQ liaison and LGBTQ Advisory Board. I intend to work with the LGBTQ community to utilize the Advisory Board to its fullest extent. Lastly, I plan to revitalize and prioritize the City’s Human Relations Commission by providing more autonomy, authority, and funding.


What is your position on the City Council recently approving a cabinet-level post for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion that includes the first LGBTQ affairs director?

I support this post, and I plan to complete a comprehensive search to find the appropriate individual to fill this position just as I will for similar roles in my administration. I believe that we need to do a better job of ensuring that we have a diverse and inclusive administration especially outside of the diversity and inclusion focused departments. There is untapped talent in a lot of communities in the city of Atlanta. I plan to be intentional as mayor rather than being passive and hoping that those talented individuals apply. I plan to actively recruit and seek out that talent to bring into City Hall for positions throughout all facets of my administration.



Felicia Moore 

Moore was elected to the City Council in 1997 before becoming city council president in 2018.


What are the key issues that LGBTQ Atlantans are facing that you plan to address if elected? How do you plan to address these issues? 

I believe our LGBTQ neighbors and business owners want the same things everyone else does: to be safe where they live, work, and play; to be free to be who they are without discrimination; to receive the services they pay for; and to have government leaders they can trust, rely upon, and who will be accountable to them. That said, there are a few additional needs they have, which our city has failed to provide. The first is HOPWA. When elected, I am going to begin restructuring how the city of Atlanta delivers on this program. It is unconscionable to me that our non-profit organizations are facing grievous hardships due to the failure of our city to pass through federal money in a timely manner. I want to make sure our city is providing more workforce training and healthcare support to our LGBTQ community members, and that we take extra good care of our unsheltered youth.


Do you plan on maintaining the LGBTQ Advisory Board that Mayor Bottoms renewed?

As our next mayor, I will not only maintain the LGBTQ Advisory board inside the mayor’s office, but I will be meeting with that team more frequently and insisting that other department directors meet with them so that good ideas and service remedies are not left on the table. Progress is only made when words turn into action. I want discussions by our LGBTQ Advisory board to be transparent to the community at large so we can all be held accountable for taking action on them.

What is your position on the City Council recently approving a cabinet-level post for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to include LGBTQ affairs?

I think this is a great idea, and I look forward to announcing this position and its duties during my transition period when I’m elected as our next mayor. I am proud to know a few people who would be excellent candidates for this position, but in the interest of fairness and transparency, I want to open the opportunity for this position and others to community nominations. I believe this is the way to ensure we are not missing hidden talent.

Positive Impact Health Centers has announced it is terminating its HOPWA contract with the city of Atlanta for breach of contract and failure to comply with federal regulations for timely reimbursements. What are the first steps you would take to address this long-standing issue of agencies who serve those with HIV/AIDS alleging the city is not meeting its requirements in distributing needed funding for housing for those with HIV/AIDS?

The simple fact is that the city has not met its obligations to our citizens living with AIDS nor the agencies that serve them. As our next mayor, I will begin work on restructuring that office during my transition period, before inauguration. While there are some actions I won’t legally be able to take until I take my oath of office, there are some things like identifying people with experience in delivering on federal contacts so they can take over as new staff. I will also use my transition period to meet with leaders of Positive Impact, Jerusalem House, Georgia Equality and others to learn what they need to serve their constituents. I will also meet with frontline staff to try to uncover the root causes of the dysfunction in that department so I can begin repairing it on Day One of my administration.


Kasim Reed

Reed served two terms as Atlanta’s 59th mayor from 2010-2018. During his first term, he was forced to face the LGBTQ blowback over the controversial police raid of the Midtown gay bar the Atlanta Eagle. Eventually, the city settled with the owners and patrons of the bar for more than $1 million.


What are the key issues that LGBTQ Atlantans are facing that you plan to address if elected? How do you plan to address these issues?

There are three issues that Reed believes will need to be addressed immediately if elected are: the public safety of our LGBTQ community, specifically Black trans women; addressing our city’s rate of new HIV infections; and getting the city’s HOPWA program back on track.

Former Mayor Reed’s plan to address violent crime in Atlanta includes hiring 750 police officers, implementing training centered on non-violent, community-based policing, keeping the Atlanta City Jail open so that violent offenders remain off the street, and opening all 33 of the city’s Center of Hope recreation centers to keep children safe.

As it relates to the LGBTQ community, Reed will establish a unit within the Atlanta Police Department dedicated to investigating hate crimes and crimes against the LGBTQ community. The unit would be empowered to operate as a full investigative unit.

It is also important to note that in the weeks following the tragic shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, former Mayor Reed met with LGBTQ leaders, business owners and event organizers at City Hall to discuss how to keep people attending events and nightclubs safe. After hearing from these leaders, Reed directed the Atlanta Police Department to hold a series of trainings to respond to active-shooter scenarios. In 2016, the Reed Administration appointed Tracee McDaniel to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board, which provides citizen oversight of alleged police misconduct. Ms. McDaniel was the first transgender member of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board in the city’s history.

Although Atlanta has become the epicenter of the HIV crisis, this is a problem that is solvable with leadership, funding and consistent community education and engagement. Reed’s priority will be to leverage at least $10 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Minority HIV/AIDS Fund to support efforts to expand HIV diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and response. Reed will work closely with Fulton County Department of Public Health to increase testing and access to treatment. Access to PrEP medication has to be made easier for populations that are difficult to reach. Reed’s record of winning philanthropic and foundation support for city priorities is unmatched. He is committed to extending the current one-year HIV Executive Fellowship supported through the FUSE Foundation and expanding the reach of that program. Reed also supports extending and expanding the City’s current HIV Executive Fellow position.

The more than $20 million in federal funding for HOPWA deserves and requires a dedicated program management team. The city’s approach of having the Office of Grants Management administer this program as one of many failed during Reed’s second term as mayor and continues to fail the people it is designed to support. This money is critical to providing housing solutions and support services for low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS. If elected, Reed is committed to implementing additional leadership and operational changes to ensure that every dollar is pushed to the non-profits and individuals it is intended to serve. This includes streamlining application requirements to match federal criteria, creating a position that would work with providers directly to aid them with the compliance process and putting all payments to providers on a net 30 payment cycle.


Do you plan on maintaining the LGBTQ Advisory Board that Mayor Bottoms established? If not, how will you keep informed on the needs of LGBTQ Atlantans?

Yes. In 2013, Mayor Reed appointed Robin Shahar as Mayoral Advisor on LGBTQ issues. We support the expansion of the advisory board and will continue to support its efforts.


What is your position on the City Council recently approving a cabinet-level post for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to include the LGBTQ affairs director?

Yes, Mr. Reed supports the creation of a cabinet-level post for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to include LGBTQ affairs. At this time, Mr. Reed does not have a person in mind to fill the position but if elected, the administration would work with the LGBTQ community to identify the best candidate.