Gay candidate atop field for Atlanta mayor

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The upcoming race for Atlanta mayor could be an embarrassment of riches for the city's LGBT residents. One gay candidate is in it to win it, while most other possible candidates bring lengthy LGBT-friendly resumes.

The AJC did a rundown on the candidates, starting with Cathy Woolard. The LGBT activist and political trailblazer – with her own lengthy City Hall resume – announced in March to the cheers of many fans in gay Atlanta.

Longtime LGBT activist and political trailblazer Cathy Woolard, who has toyed with the idea of a return to Atlanta City Hall, says she's no longer hinting at a run. She's in for the 2017 campaign.

The AJC expects that support to translate into big cash for Woolard's campaign coffer.

Woolard — who is expected to raise millions from national gay-rights groups — registered her campaign this month and named Franklin’s daughter-in-law, Candice Franklin, as treasurer.

Woolard would once again make history, becoming the city's first openly gay leader years after she became its first gay Council member and then Council president. But she'll have to best scores of competitors with their own LGBT support and equality advocacy.

That list, according to the AJC, could include state Rep. Margaret Kaiser – who already has gay Rev. Josh Noblitt lining up to replace her – Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Council members Kwanza Hall and Michael Julian Bond, former Fulton County Commissioner Rob Pitts, Fulton Chair John Eaves and state Reps. Vincent Fort and Kathy Ashe. The AJC also mentions City Council member Mary Norwood, who narrowly lost to Mayor Kasim Reed in 2009. But she's hinted to LGBT supporters – of which there are many – that she's not jumping into the race.

It's a huge field for an election that doesn't take place until 2017. Yes, it's nearly two years away. Via the AJC:

“I don’t remember this many candidates or this much interest this early,” said retired Georgia State University professor and self-described political junkie Harvey Newman. He was stunned to receive a telephone survey about potential candidates a few weeks back. “It’s exciting when you have an open seat. From the minute a re-election is over, people start lining up.”

This far from the election, why should we care? Because the soapbox of the Atlanta mayor is often the biggest in the region. So a mayor can lend their voice to LGBT equality issues like this. And this. And fire employees like this. An LGBT-friendly (or gay) mayor can also ensure Atlanta police continue on their bumpy road to reform.

So let the gossip begin.

“Why is it of such interest now, when we’ve got 2016 ahead of us?” Alphran asked. “Because we love political gossip.”


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