Lesbian and longtime community activist Simone Bell officially launched her campaign for the state House earlier this week in the heart of the district she hopes to soon represent.
In a crowded event Tuesday at Vino Libro in Glenwood Park, Bell discussed her years of work on issues including workplace equality, access to affordable healthcare, fighting HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination, safe schools for all children, youth empowerment and LGBT rights and equality. She also thanked her partner, Valarie Acree, for her support as she considered stepping into the special election.
Bell, if elected, would become the first openly lesbian African American to win election to a state legislature in the U.S. She announced she would seek the seat Aug. 14. She faces attorney Asha Jackson, businessman Kevin Johnson, political consultant Michael McPherson and J. Lewis IV in the race.
The heavily-gay District 58 includes portions of Grant Park, East Atlanta, Cabbagetown and west DeKalb neighborhoods. The seat became open when state Rep. Robin Shipp resigned earlier this year. The election is set for Nov. 3.
The event last week was the second recent fundraiser that showed Bell’s support among LGBT voters. On Tuesday, event hosts included Jeff Graham and other prominent LGBT activists. Graham is executive director of Georgia Equality, which recently endorsed Bell’s campaign along with the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. An event on Sept. 10 raised funds for Bell at the home of Paul Horning, who serves on the Victory Fund’s board.
In June, Bell received the first-ever Phillip Rush Community Builder Award from Georgia Equality for her work with the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative, Lambda Legal and the Black LGBT Coalition.
View the Project Q Atlanta photo album from the campaign kickoff.