LGBT state lawmaker quits to run for Fulton chair

State Rep. Keisha Waites – one of four openly LGBTQ lawmakers in Georgia – resigned Monday to run for chair of the Fulton County Commission.

"Serving in the Georgia General Assembly has been one of the greatest experiences of my life," Waites said in her resignation letter to Gov. Nathan Deal.

"It is my belief our work together under the Golden Dome has given me the wherewithal to successfully navigate the role and responsibility as the next Chair of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners," Waites added.

Waites also qualified for the Fulton race on Monday, joining former Fulton Commissioner Robb Pitts and Sandy Springs City Council member Gabriel Sterling in the race. The winner will fill the unexpired term of former Fulton Chair John Eaves, who resigned earlier this year to run for Atlanta mayor.

Waites took office in February 2012 after winning a special election for the District 60 post in the state House. In 2010, she ran for the Fulton County Commission, topping a crowded field only to lose the runoff by 168 votes to Joan Garner, who went on to become the commission's first openly LGBT member. In 2006, Waites ran for Fulton chair and lost to Eaves.

As a state lawmaker, Waites has lobbied to protect LGBT state employees from discrimination with personal testimony, fought for a hate crimes law, voted against allowing guns into bars, rallied opposition to anti-LGBT legislation again and again, smacked down bullies in schools – twice, and stood to support Atlanta's transgender community.

She even preaches against haters on Facebook.

In the race for Fulton chair, Waites told the Georgia Voice that LGBT votes will matter.

Waites called the LGBT community a “major voting bloc” in the race.

“They will play a pivotal role,” she said.

Waites is among more than a dozen LGBT candidates in races across metro Atlanta. They include Stephe Koontz and Joseph Geierman, who are running for the Doraville City Council. Others are Josh McNair and Reese McCranie for the District 4 post on the Fulton County Commission, Cathy Woolard and Laban King for Atlanta mayor, and Alex Wan for Atlanta City Council president. Several LGBT candidates are also running for Atlanta City Council, including Kirk Rich, Liliana Bakhtiari and Bill Powell. 

Charlie Stadtlander is campaigning for an Atlanta School Board seat. Christopher Weed is running for the East Point City Council.