LGBT group endorses Alex Wan for City Council president

Alex Wan – the first gay man and Asian American elected to the Atlanta City Council – received a boost to his campaign for council president, getting endorsed by a statewide LGBT equality group.

Georgia Equality announced its support for Wan on Monday, citing his work to expand the city's non-discrimination policy to include gender identity and efforts to oppose anti-LGBT "religious freedom" legislation pushed by state lawmakers.

“Through his work these past seven years on City Council and his many years of broad community activism and engagement in the greater Atlanta community, Alex has demonstrated that he is the best candidate to lead City Council as its President,” Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality executive director, said in announcing the endorsement.

“We are proud to endorse him in his bid for this crucial position, especially at a time when the new City Council President will need to work with a new Mayor and a Council on which nearly half the members will be new. Atlanta and our community has made great strides under his leadership and we look forward to his continuing, collaborative leadership and fiscal stewardship," Graham added.

Wan is one of three candidates running for City Council president. City Council member Felicia Moore has courted LGBT voters while City Council member C.T. Martin voted against a City Council resolution backing gay marriage in 2012. Wan is leading fundraising in a race in which the candidates have raised nearly $600,000, according to the Saporta Report.

Wan said the endorsement is a testament to his work on LGBT issues.

“I am grateful for this nod from Georgia Equality, and especially appreciative that they recognize me not just as a gay candidate, but for my ongoing commitment to the community, and a willingness to take this next step, serving the City I love in a much broader role,” Wan said in a prepared statement.

“I do believe I have earned the vote not only of LGBT Atlanta residents, but of all of the diverse stakeholders of our City. I will continue to bring people together, working through a lens of transparency and sustainability, as a strong, vocal, and positive advocate," he added.

Wan was endorsed by the Victory Fund earlier this year and the organization honored him with its Victory Fund Leadership Award.

Wan celebrates his 50th birthday with a fundraiser celebration on Wednesday at Venkman's in Poncey Highland.

Wan announced his campaign for council president in January. The race means he will give up the District 6 post he's held since 2010 – and a seat occupied by an LGBT person for 20 years. Cathy Woolard ousted an incumbent in 1997 and became the state's first openly LGBT elected official. Anne Fauver replaced her in 2002 when Woolard became the city's first-ever gay City Council president.

Woolard, now running for mayor, was endorsed by Georgia Equality on Aug. 1.

The full statement from Georgia Equality:

Wan was first elected to the City Council District 6 post in 2009 and is the first Asian American and first openly gay man to serve on Atlanta City Council. As a member of the City Council, Alex has helped strengthen the city’s non-discrimination policy regarding gender identity and co-sponsored City legislation opposing the Georgia Legislature’s efforts to implement a so-called religious freedom act (RFRA).

“Through his work these past seven years on City Council and his many years of broad community activism and engagement in the greater Atlanta community, Alex has demonstrated that he is the best candidate to lead City Council as its President,” says Jeff Graham, Executive Director of Georgia Equality. “We are proud to endorse him in his bid for this crucial position, especially at a time when the new City Council President will need to work with a new Mayor and a Council on which nearly half the members will be new. Atlanta and our community has made great strides under his leadership and we look forward to his continuing, collaborative leadership and fiscal stewardship.”

Alex has a long history of working with and raising funds for a variety of HIV/AIDS related programs, and served for several years as the director of development for Jerusalem House, one of Atlanta’s most important providers of HIV-related housing. We feel this experience will be critical in the coming years as the City of Atlanta confronts the challenge of providing quality affordable housing to People Living with HIV/AIDS and other low-income members of LGBTQ communities.

With a proven track record of leadership and action, his time as Chair of the Finance Committee led to a balanced city budget, and his broad experience will enable him to be a voice for LGBT Atlantans across the city. His long standing relationship with LGBT communities in Atlanta, as well as the work he has done on behalf of LGBT Atlantans has prepared him for the office of City Council President in a way that none of the other candidates are prepared. Georgia Equality looks forward to supporting his candidacy and helping to spread the word that Alex is the right candidate for the job.