One thing people aren’t used to seeing in House District 179 in St. Simons is a Democrat on the ballot, which is what they’ll get when lesbian school administrator Julie Jordan faces incumbent state Rep. Don Hogan in November.
Jordan said President Trump’s election was a factor in her making her first political run. She said that after the Women’s March (the day after Trump’s inauguration last January), Women’s Voices of Glynn County launched with six members. Now they number close to 400.
“I’ve been a leader of that organization and I started to say hey, if we’re going to make change, we’re going to have to get people to run for office,” Jordan told Project Q Atlanta. “I had met with some of the local politicians and they didn’t really want to hear what we had to say, and they said, ‘We really don’t have to listen to you because nobody’s running against us.’ So we were like, well, if we’re going to make a change then we’re going to have to run.”
Indeed it’s women who are largely fueling Jordan’s run in what the Brunswick News calls “vermilion-red” Glynn County — more than 90 percent of her campaign contributions came from women. As of the latest campaign filing report on March 31, Jordan had raised $10,900 with $8,100 on hand, while Hogan had raised $17,700 with $17,300 on hand.
The Georgia General Assembly's Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office told Project Q that St. Simons has been represented in the House by a Republican every year going back to 1976. Jordan will be the first Democrat to challenge the Republican incumbent in House District 179 since 2010.
Economic development, a living wage and expanding Medicaid are key campaign issues for Jordan. She’s also strongly opposed to the “religious freedom” bills that have roiled the Capitol for the last five years. including state Sen. William Ligon’s failed anti-LGBTQ adoption bill from earlier this year.
“I’m against religious freedom bills because gay people have every right to be treated equally and not discriminated against for adopting children and for any reason,” she said. “Unfortunately, Ligon … is in my area and so it’s really disappointing to see that he continually brings that up when it’s such a dividing issue, and most people in Georgia and Glynn County don’t agree with it.”
Jordan — who is scheduled to attend Georgia Equality's Evening for Equality awards on Saturday — said she's not aware of her sexual orientation being an issue in the campaign, and she is out at her job as assistant principal and registrar at Glynn Academy.
“I think people I know in this community and who I work with know that I’m gay and they know that I do a great job, so I don’t think it’s ever really been an issue,” she said. “I’m sure it will come up at some point, but I think that people know the person I am, they know how hard I work, they know how I get things done and I don’t feel it should be an issue — I hope it’s not an issue.”
But Jordan said that's not the case for some LGBTQ people that live in St. Simons and Brunswick. Some are closeted over fears of losing their jobs, she said.
“We still get some blowback from time to time and people still discriminate against us, so it’s not like Atlanta," she said. "We still have a lot of work to do down here. But there’s pockets of people that are so supportive and accepting, so we’re going to keep fighting and keep pushing forward.”