More LGBT candidates lost than won in metro Atlanta on Tuesday, but in two key races gay candidates fared well enough to qualify for a Dec. 1 runoff. Five hopefuls won, including three incumbents, while nine lost.
Gay businessman Alex Wan (photo) topped the crowded field of six candidates in the District 6 race for the Atlanta City Council, but his 32 percent of the vote was not enough to win the race without a runoff. On Dec. 1, Wan will face Liz Coyle, who narrowly defeated Tad Christian by 66 votes to capture second place.
Christian placed second in ballots cast in Fulton County, but a portion of District 6 sits in DeKalb County, where Coyle made up the difference to squeak into the runoff. Overall, Wan received 2,884 votes (32 percent) to 2,050 for Coyle (23 percent) and 1,984 for Christian (22 percent).
“I said when we started this race that difficult times were exactly when those with the inclination and capacity to lead should step forward,” Wan said in a press release shortly after midnight. “I am both humbled and honored that my friends and neighbors in District 6 gave me their vote of confidence that brought us to the runoff. I look forward to their continued support and to serving as their voice in city government when the results of the runoff are announced after the December 1 vote.”
Two other gay candidates in the Midtown council race—Steve Brodie (14 percent, 1,226 votes) and Miguel Gallegos (1.6 percent, 139 votes)—finished fourth and sixth place, respectively. Brodie came within five votes of defeating incumbent Anne Fauver in 2005. Fauver, a lesbian, opted against seeking a third term.
Simone Bell (photo), a lesbian and community activist, placed a close second to Asha Jackson—27 to 24 percent—in the District 58 state House race, enough to qualify her for the Dec. 1 runoff. Bell could make history as the first lesbian African American elected to a state legislature in the U.S.
Bell thanked her supporters in a Facebook message Wednesday morning.
“The runoff election is December 1st,” Bell writes. “That’s only 4 weeks away—but when you consider what we’ve accomplished in just the last 2 months, it’s just enough time for us to make it to victory.”
“But first, I have so much to be thankful for: The voters of District 58, our supporters, and our volunteers. In less than half the time of the other candidates in a crowded and active field, we talked to thousands of voters, logged hundreds of volunteer hours, and raised more than half as much money as the top vote-getter. It wouldn’t have been possible without every single one of you,” Bell adds.
Along with Wan, four other LGBT candidates won Tuesday with nine hopefuls losing their races. Some 15 openly gay candidates were on the ballot across six cities in metro Atlanta.
Brian Bates, a gay incumbent in Doraville, easily defeated challenger Tom Hart 62 to 38 percent. Bates, a Republican, won his first full term on the council.
Bates was first elected to the District 2 At-Large post on the council of the DeKalb city in 2007 to fill the unexpired term of a city council member who resigned. Bates focused his campaign on community and helping navigate the city through an economic recession that has stalled growth in Doraville and across the region.
Johnny Sinclair, a gay Realtor who left the Marietta City Council in 2005 after two terms, reclaimed his seat. With 1 of 1 precincts reporting, Sinclair eked out a return to the Ward 3 seat with a 50.5 to 49.34 percent win over incumbent Holly Walquist.
In Pine Lake, lesbians Kathie deNobriga and Melanie Hammet—both incumbents—are among the top three vote-getters. In Pine Lake, the three candidates who receive the most votes win seats on the council. DeNobriga took 29 percent; Hammet received 28 percent.
In addition to Brodie and Gallegos, seven other LGBT candidates lost Tuesday:
On Wednesday, Williams thanked supporters and congratulated Garrett in an email to supporters.
“I am proud our campaign,” Williams writes. “We fought a hard, clean campaign, based solely on the issues that face Decatur. This campaign began and now ends with my love and my commitment for our great city.”
“I want to thank all of our supporters, contributors, and especially the 1,372 people who voted in this race on Tuesday. It has been an amazing experience that I will never forget. Our campaign put together a coalition of neighbors from across District 2 over varying races, ethnicity, ages, sexual orientations and economic circumstances. Our campaign engaged the public, as turnout in District 2 was 82% higher than it was in the last municipal election in 2007,” Williams adds.
In Atlanta’s District 12 race, lesbian Keisha LaShawn Waites also lost. She placed second, 58 to 27 percent, to incumbent Joyce Sheperd.
Charlie Stadtlander, a gay challenger for the Atlanta Board of Education District 3 post, lost that race to incumbent Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, 56 to 44 percent.
Stadtlander thanked supporters in an email Wednesday morning.
“With your help, we were able to elevate an extremely important election for the Atlanta School Board from its usual ‘under the radar’ status, to a race which gained considerable local and even national attention,” Stadtlander writes. “Additionally, the primary issues we brought forward including bullying, failing schools, and wasteful spending are now part of the public debate and I plan to continue pressing these issues until they are solved. We also drastically increased voter turnout and truly brought the race down to the wire.”
Atlanta mayoral candidate Kyle Keyser (photo), who launched a last-minute grassroots race, captured 0.80 percent, putting him fifth in a six-person race. Mary Norwood and Kasim Reed will face each other in a runoff next month.
In East Point, both gay candidates—Eric Morrow and Ken DeLeon—lost. Morrow lost 53 to 47 percent to incumbent Pat Langford, while DeLeon lost 53 to 47 percent to incumbent Marcel Reed.