Lost in the news of the mayor’s race and two gay candidates making history on Tuesday was this: LGBT voters helped propel another gay-friendly candidate into the post of City Council president.
Ceasar Mitchell (photo), the current Post 1 At-Large City Council member, defeated council colleague Clair Muller 55 to 45 percent in Tuesday’s runoff to become Atlanta’s No. 2 elected leader. He did so while running an inclusive campaign that included appearances at scores of LGBT events during the election cycle, including gatherings of the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta Pride and the dedication of the Phillip Rush Center. He even found time in the closing days of his own runoff campaign to mix with Alex Wan supporters Sunday.
Muller, on the other hand, ignored LGBT voters.
Mitchell follows Lisa Borders, a strong supporter of LGBT issues, and Cathy Woolard, a lesbian, as City Council president.
For his work and attention, Mitchell received a trio of gay endorsements from Atlanta Stonewall Democrats, Georgia Equality and Georgia Log Cabin Republicans. The trifecta shows that LGBT influence can matter in races across the ballot, says Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality.
“It was overlooked that the LGBT community came together very solidly behind Caesar Mitchell and that is in large part what helped him secure his victory in the runoff,” Graham says. “That does show the power of the LGBT vote when we can come together and unify behind a specific candidate.”
Gay voters split in the mayor’s race, though it’s not clear to what extent. Two gay candidates—Alex Wan and Simone Bell—scored historic victories Tuesday, fueled in part by LGBT supporters who volunteered for the campaigns and donated money. But LGBT groups did not unify behind candidates in any of those three races.
In races in which all three LGBT groups endorsed the same candidate, the results were mixed. Mitchell won, though Adam Brackman lost his race to fill Mitchell’s seat and Kyle Williams lost his campaign for the Decatur City Commission. Brackman and Williams are gay men.
For Georgia Equality, the group backed six candidates in the runoff. Four won—Bell, Mitchell, Wan and Sharonda Hubbard in East Point—while two lost. Those include Amir Farokhi and his bid for the Post 2 At-Large seat on the Atlanta City Council and East Point Mayor Joe Macon.
Stonewall supported four candidates—Bell, Mitchell, mayoral candidate Kasim Reed and Aaron Watson for Post 2 At-Large—and all won.
Log Cabin had two endorsed candidates on the ballot Tuesday—Mitchell and Farokhi.