But Lim, a 36-year-old first-time candidate, can’t exactly savor the victory – or the historic moment. He’s been consumed with helping residents of his Gwinnett County district navigate the coronavirus pandemic and prepare for the November elections.
“I really haven’t had time to sit and think about what that will mean. I’m sure it will hit at some point as January comes closer,” Lim said. “But I’m very honored and looking forward to doing the work that will be necessary for me to do.”
Lim talked about the campaign, LGBTQ issues, and his personal experiences with voter suppression and intersectionality during a wide-ranging interview for a new episode of Podcast Q.
Lim heads to the Georgia House in January after a commanding win in June when he grabbed 61 percent of the vote in a two-candidate Democratic primary. With no Republican opponent in November, he’ll become the new District 99 representative. The district is east of the Jimmy Carter Boulevard exit on Interstate 85 and includes unincorporated portions of Norcross.
Lim was among 12 LGBTQ candidates on the ballot for state House seats in June. Of the five non-incumbents that faced primary opposition, Lim was the only one that won. Josh McNair lost in District 56, Mac Sims lost in District 163, and two LGBTQ candidates lost in District 57 – Kyle Lamont and Alex Wan.
Two other non-incumbent LGBTQ candidates – Jonathan Gilreath-Harvey (District 12) and Julie Jordan (District 179) – face Republican incumbents in November.
Lim will likely join five other LGBTQ lawmakers already in the state House. State Reps. Park Cannon, Karla Drenner and Renitta Shannon don’t face opposition in November. Reps. Sam Park and Matthew Wilson face Republican opponents.
Lim called Park a “trailblazer” and credited him and other LGBTQ elected officials with making it possible for him to run for office. Lim will become the fifth LGBTQ elected official in Gwinnett.
“When you see other people, who if not look like you certainly stand for the values you stand for, it makes it easier for you to do it,” he said.
As an Asian immigrant born in the Philippines who moved to Atlanta with his family when he was seven, and as a progressive Catholic, Lim’s profile fits well with the diversity of the district. It has a population that is about 50 percent immigrants and 85 percent minorities, he said. Large swaths of the district also struggle with poverty and a lack of health insurance.
“Not only were we immigrants, but we were on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum and were on various forms of public assistance. So I get a little bit of insight into what that is like,” Lim said.
“It also shaped me to give back, because yes, I went off to law school. I suppose I could have done a big law job and made money, but I always wanted to find ways to help others, particularly of that background,” he added.
Lim said the diversity of the district extends to its LGBTQ residents.
“I am a representative, but I cannot represent every possible voice, which is why it is so important for me to make sure the voices of other people are represented. When that comes to the LGBTQ community, obviously I am going to ensure, given the intersectionality of my district – there are a lot of LGBTQ minorities – that that type of voice is represented,” he said.
“But no group is a monolith. That is true of the LGBTQ community. That is true of Asians. The best way to do that is make sure that, yes, I’m speaking for them in some ways, but to make sure that they are using their voices to speak out,” Lim added.