A young civil engineer quietly made history on Tuesday by becoming the first-ever openly gay man to win election to a countywide office in Fulton County.
Democrat Arnaud Huguet, 24, trounced Republican incumbent William Daniel 61.81 percent to 38.19 percent in the race for Fulton County Surveyor, a little known part-time position. Huguet received 238,446 votes to 147,300 for Daniel.
Huguet thanked supporters in a Facebook post on Tuesday morning.
I would like to thank you all for allowing me this opportunity to be your County Surveyor! Let your voice be heard… I will not fail you! Thank you!
Huguet's win also included a bit of irony. Daniel was Huguet's professor in a surveying class at Georgia Tech, where he graduated in 2013.
“I remember him being very approachable and I have the most respect for him. I did get an A – it was one class in so many,” Huguet told Project Q Atlanta earlier this year.
Huguet is a civil engineer with the Georgia Department of Transportation. Born in France, Huguet moved with his family to Aiken, S.C. at age 10. He graduated with high honors from Georgia Tech and moved to Texas to take a job with BNSF Railway before eventually returning to Atlanta for the GDOT job where he works on roadway designs.
He speaks two languages and plays both the trumpet and violin. Huguet became a U.S. citizen in 2013 and, thanks to several moves with his job, wasn't able to establish residency and vote in his first election until last year.
Huguet said friends urged him to run for the countywide post and provide a choice to voters.
“I'm very much new in the political field,” Huguet said. “I've been getting a lot of feedback and people are enthusiastic about having a choice.”
Huguet said before the race that a challenge would be reaching voters in the expansive, diverse county on a limited campaign budget and convincing them that he's qualified for the post.
“If people think I'm qualified, they will vote for me,” he said earlier this year.
Huguet said as county surveyor he's responsible for resolving property disputes and tracking historical markers.
“Your duties are only if trouble arises and you get called in to resolve a problem. You are a peer mediator between two parties,” Huguet said.
Huguet's win came more than a decade after an openly gay candidate last sought countywide office in Fulton. In 2003, Mitzi Bickers – then the president of the Atlanta Board of Education – came out as a lesbian during her unsuccessful run to become chair of the Fulton County Commission.
“[Being a gay candidate] strengthens my ambition to win and represent those with a lesser voice. We need more representation. I am just too open minded to see gay and straight as an issue,” Huguet said.
Also on Tuesday, Joan Garner faced no opposition and won re-election to the District 4 post on the Fulton County Commission. Garner became the first-ever openly gay member of the commission when she won election in 2010. She coasted to re-election in 2014.
Across Fulton, lesbian candidates have won a handful of judicial races. Garner's partner, Fulton State Court Judge Jane Morrison, won election in 2012 to become a state court judge. Morrison won a second term earlier this year.
Fulton Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick won her race, also countywide, in 2014 and replaced Cynthia Wright, who is also gay. Gay attorney and Fulton magistrate Gary Alembik lost his bid for Fulton Superior Court judge in July.