Openly gay East Point City Council member Lance Rhodes faces a Dec. 6 runoff with Karen Rene, a first-time political candidate.
Rhodes garnered 49.52 percent of the Nov. 8 vote while Rene received 45.22 and Marie T. Williams got 5.05, according to official Fulton County election results. Because no candidate achieved 50 percent plus one vote, the top two advance to the runoff.
Rhodes, seeking his third term on the council, was instrumental in getting domestic partner benefits passed for city employees.
“In my first term we established an ordinance and policy that includes the LGBT community. These actions included domestic partnership, recognition of same-sex relationships though City Hall and equal tenement to LGBT people through public use of taxicab services. In addition, East Point has increased the appointment and hiring of openly gay employees and officials. East Point also passed a city charter that protects and includes same sex relationships,” he said.
Rhodes said he also believes he has made environmental concerns an important part of city policies.
“I believe I have brought a stronger awareness to our environmental concerns to our community. I provided leadership on passing the Capital Improvement Plan that address our EPD (Environmental Protection Division) Consent Order. We are now ahead of those goals by two years,” he said.
Rhodes said he has contributed to the establishment of a home recycle service at no additional cost to citizens and the passing of an alternative power ordinance (including solar panels). He and the council are currently working to complete the program for transfer to bio-fuel use in city vehicles.
Rhodes added that he believes the biggest challenge facing East Point is development.
“I am committed to building the City Hall complex, development of the Main Street corridor through the Livable Centers Initiative, development of the commons area through the leadership of our Business Industrial and Development Authority and involvement with the development of the Ft. McPherson project,” he added.
“This goal of development must set a standard for developers by protecting our environment, improving our work and play design, repairing our sidewalk system within the next three years, continuing our capital improvement of the infrastructure, road repair and parks improvements,” he said.
Rhodes said he hopes to be reelected so he can continue the work he has started.
“East Point citizens deserve leadership that recognizes the highest ethical standard. I remain committed to responding to citizens concerns within 24 hours, maintaining our financial recovery plan, making decisions based on sound business principles and providing an improved standard of living,” Rhodes said. “I stand ready to make difficult decisions as I have in the past to secure our financial future. We have some exciting days before us and I wish to be a part of that success.”
Rhodes was endorsed by LGBT political group Georgia Equality for the third time and also received the endorsement of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund for the third time.
Rene: ‘Supportive of equity’
Rene moved to East Point in 2002. She received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Alabama State University and a law degree from Atlanta Law School. For the past eight years she has worked as the business community liaison at the Atlanta Job Corps working with underprivileged youth.
In her job, Rene said she has worked with local officials as well as state representatives and congressional members.
“My education and work experience have given me the professional experience and acuity to handle legislative matters on the council. I am prepared for service on the council, with a balance of experience and a fresh energetic perspective,” she said.
Her vision for East Point is the preservation of historic buildings, to promote downtown business and growth while creating jobs.
East Point deserves “city leaders who smartly manage taxpayer dollars and don’t increase utilities or create new fees when they need to make tough decisions,” she added.
Rene is also a supporter of LGBT equality, she said.
“I am supportive of equity and fairness in the workplace. I support employers who offer domestic partner benefits; to me it makes good business sense,” she said.
She said she would also work to “promote equal hiring opportunities for East Point residents and residential representation on all boards.”
“I believe in the power of diversity. It’s what makes the city of East Point a great place to live. The truth is we all want the same things in life,” she added.
Top photo: Openly gay East Point City Councilmember Lance Rhodes (left) faces a runoff against Karen Rene on Dec. 6. (Courtesy photos)