Community organizer Simone Bell has stepped into the campaign for the District 58 post in the Georgia General Assembly, becoming the only openly gay candidate in the race.
Bell joins at least three other candidates — attorney Asha Jackson, businessman Kevin Johnson and political consultant Michael McPherson — in the race, a special election to fill the seat vacated earlier this year by Rep. Robin Shipp. The election is set for Nov. 3.
“I am committed to fighting for and supporting legislation and policies that reflect the voice of the people,” Bell says on her campaign website. “I’m prepared to work on the state level to build a more progressive Georgia that will thrive and flourish and look forward to your support.
Bell, a Detroit native, has lived in Atlanta for 20 years, graduated from Agnes Scott College in Decatur and brings an extensive background in community activism to the race. She’s worked on issues including workplace equality, access to affordable healthcare, fighting HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination, safe schools for all children, youth empowerment, LGBT rights and equality and women’s issues.
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.
The heavily-gay District 58 includes portions of Grant Park, East Atlanta, Cabbagetown and west DeKalb neighborhoods. Allen Thornell, a longtime LGBT activist, campaigned for the seat in 2006, but lost to Shipp. He considered jumping into the race again this year, but decided against it in April. Thornell died Aug. 3.
Bell adds her name to a growing list of gay candidates this election season. Steve Brodie, Miguel Gallegos and Alex Wan are among six candidates for the District 6 seat on the city council, while Adam Brackman is running for the Post 1 At Large seat. Charlie Stadtlander is campaigning for the District 3 post on the Atlanta Board of Education.