Mary Norwood supporters at the 2017 Atlanta Pride parade

LGBT Mary Norwood supporters respond to Ryan Lee column

This guest editorial is in response to Ryan Lee’s recent column, “Anybody but Mary Norwood for Atlanta mayor.”

As we celebrate another meaningful Pride weekend, and the great accomplishments our community has achieved, we can now turn our attention to the final stretch of the Atlanta mayoral race. Never in the history of Atlanta has the LGBTQ community had so many good candidates to choose from. We are fortunate to have candidates that understand our concerns and the issues that affect our community and families. No matter who wins the mayoral race, the LBGTQ community will achieve a victory. The LGBTQ community has become an influential voice in Atlanta city politics. Our voices will be heard. It is exciting to think that this election year we have the ability to significantly influence the outcome of Atlanta’s mayoral race.

As with any voting group, we are not monolithic. We all have different opinions. We vary in terms of how we view issues. Ryan Lee recently expressed his views based on his perspective. He identified issues that are important to him. When we read opinion pieces, like Ryan Lee’s, we are stimulated and prompted to think about issues that are important to our lives and the lives of those we care for.

Why should you consider Mary when selecting your next mayor?

Early on, when marriage equality seemed unachievable, Mary Norwood was with us. Mary has consistently voted “Yes” for issues that have advanced the interests and concerns of the LGBTQ citizens of Atlanta. Mary remains aligned and engaged with our community.

Mary cares about us, the safety of our families, our community and our neighborhoods. It is Mary’s ambition to earn the title of Atlanta’s first “Neighborhood Mayor.”

Mary has a sterling reputation when it comes to serving her constituents. She is responsive to the concerns of her constituents, and is known to be a problem solver. Mary will continue to get the job done.

Mary’s legislative record surpasses all of the candidates in the field. Mary has a strong record of supporting legislation that has successfully impacted zoning ordinances, housing, police, public safety, police raises, parks and recreation and, yes, even your garbage pickup.

The Mary Norwood we know has supported funding for low-income housing for people with HIV/AIDS. Mary was instrumental in encouraging the city to take a stand against discriminatory religious liberty legislation. Contrary to what some might suggest, Mary has always supported Atlanta’s gay nightlife, which is why many bar owners support Mary for mayor. Mary has worked with grassroots community leaders to develop proposals for our homeless and at-risk gay youth. Mary will champion the decriminalization of one’s HIV status, and she will use the office of mayor to speak out regarding issues that affect our community. Mary understands and is sensitive to the fact that Atlanta’s HIV/AIDS infection rates rival third world countries. She knows the city can’t sit on the sidelines in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS; this is why Mary is calling for the expansion of PrEP program. Mary truly cares about our community.

Mary will tackle issues that are important to all of us. Property taxes, public safety and transparency in government are issues that are of great importance to Mary.

Mary’s LGBTQ friends and family know that Mary is passionate about making a difference in our community. She is tough and compassionate. She has worked to serve her constituent’s needs and has not hesitated to fight the bureaucracy of City Hall.
We know Mary’s record. We are proud to support her because we know that she has the knowledge, experience, tenacity and drive to make this an even greater city.

Mary will make a terrific mayor. Mary Norwood cares about all of our citizens — gay, straight, black, white, northern neighbors, southern neighbors and all of those in-between. As proud members of the LGBTQ community, Mary Norwood has our vote!

Gary Alembik is a former judge in the Superior Court of Fulton County and a Georgia Equality-endorsed candidate in 2016; Paul Zucca is past president of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association; Lori Lobel is a former member of the Atlanta public safety community.

Editor’s Note: After this editorial was published, it was revealed that Paul Zucca and Lori Lobel were paid staffers of Mary Norwood’s. This was not disclosed when the editorial was submitted.