Wan distances campaign from new endorsement

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UPDATED | 1:41 p.m.

imageAlex Wan, with two key endorsements already in hand since he topped the field in the District 6 race last week, is putting some distance between him and a third public backing.

The latest came late Monday from Charlie Stadtlander, a gay teacher who lost his race for the Atlanta Board of Education District 3 post. Stadtlander received nearly 4,700 votes on Nov. 3 — more than Wan’s 2,862 votes — in a district that nearly overlaps the lines of the Atlanta City Council’s District 6. Stadtlander also competed in the District 6 council race before ending that campaign in April.

On Monday, Stadtlander issued a statement backing Wan and criticizing Liz Coyle, who placed second in the District 6 race. Wan and Coyle face each other in a Dec. 1 runoff.

As a candidate for office, having spent considerable time with the City Council District 6 candidates, I have come to realize that Alex Wan is the most highly qualified and capable candidate to serve our great city. I make this endorsement with confidence and with the strong belief that his opponent is not only a proven divisive personality, but also with the fear that her convenient, newly-found support for gay equality is of great concern. It was just a few short years ago that she was attempting to shut down many gay and lesbian establishments within the District in an effort to, ‘take back the neighborhoods for families.’ In this time, Ms. Coyle has also been reported as using the slur such as “transvestitute” to describe her mistaken belief that gay men were prostituting in our neighborhoods. Her disrespect for the gay and lesbian community during PrideFest Atlanta by hiring nude dancers as a ploy to exploit the LGBT Community for her own political gain is appalling. Alex Wan is the only proven consensus-builder who has the experience, dedication, and integrity to represent us on the City Council. I strongly encourage each and every one of my voters to cast a vote for equality and honesty by voting for Alex Wan on December 1st.

It is my belief that a Liz Coyle victory would be detrimental to not only our City, but also a giant step back for the equality movement. Please cast your crucial vote for Alex Wan on December 1st.

In the District 6 race — which pits a gay businessman and community activist against a heterosexual neighborhood activist — gay issues and votes could play a critical role. But Wan, who received the backing of Georgia Equality and the Buckhead Coalition last week, put a little breathing room between his campaign and Stadtlander’s endorsement on Tuesday.

My campaign is aware that Charlie Stadtlander has endorsed me. He joins a diverse array of people and organizations supporting my candidacy.

My campaign does not condone negative statements about other candidates. We have run a positive campaign, as have our opponents, and we look forward to continuing to run an inclusive campaign focused on qualifications and issues. I’m sure my opponent will continue to do so as well.

imageAlso Tuesday, Stadtlander issued a second statement clarifying his earlier remarks and offering a more detailed explanation of his charges against Coyle. Stadtlander also revised his description of Coyle’s dancers in the Pride parade as “semi-nude” and not “nude,” as he stated in his initial endorsement statement.

Coyle’s entry in the Nov. 1 Pride parade did include a shirtless supporter walking alongside it (photo). (View more photos of elected officials and candidates from the Pride parade.)

But Coyle told Southern Voice Tuesday that she did not pay dancers to accompany her in the parade. The shirtless man is “a friend and supporter.”

“I’m not going to get into trying to disprove false charges,” she said, adding that a statement from some gay supporters was forthcoming.

“People can say what they want to say and you will hear from my supporters who know, and know who I am,” she said.

Meanwhile, the results of the District 6 race are being recounted Tuesday, as Tad Christian — who placed third by a narrow 65 votes — challenged the final tally.

Stadtlander’s statement issued Tuesday concerning the District 6 race:

I wanted to take a moment to clarify a few things surrounding my statement regarding Liz Coyle’s bid for City Council.

-The statements I made were made by me as an individual and as my opinion, without coordination with any campaign or persons involved with any campaign.

-As a voter in District 6, and person who has worked extensively for gay rights, I believe that I have the right to bring forth my concerns and use these concerns as a basis for making an endorsement for a candidate I support for office.

-The claims made in my statement are based upon the following, which remain undisputed by the few who are frustrated with my opinion of Ms. Coyle:

*Direct statements Ms. Coyle made to me and my partner regarding her thoughts and beliefs on Pride Atlanta and the “habits” of the gay community in October, 2009, when discussing her decision to employ semi-nude dancers on her Pride float.  Ms. Coyle’s float did include the referenced dancers, and was the only political campaign out of roughly 20, to do so.

*Direct statements by Ms. Coyle at numerous neighborhood association meetings regarding the detriment of gay bars/nightclubs to neighborhoods, several of which I was present and directly heard, and of which the minutes are public record.

*Ms. Coyle’s direct acknowledgement to me and my partner of her using the word “transvestitute” in public conversations to support the closing of numerous nightclubs, specifically, Bulldogs, as well as being present to directly hear her use the term to describe gay persons who were loitering for prostitution outside of gay nightclubs.

*First-hand viewing of an email Ms. Coyle sent after statements she made at a fundraiser in Morningside, in an attempt to explain what I considered to be inflammatory statements regarding gays and lesbians, the morality of our lifestyle, and our alleged behaviors as simply a misunderstanding. 

-At no time in my statement did I refer to Ms. Coyle as “anti-gay.”

-If Ms. Coyle acknowledges that she regrets making these statements, and pledges her full support behind gay rights, I will accept her statement as sincere and true.  If she denies these statements, then I will continue to consider her as a non-equality based candidate.  

-To this point, as a constituent and voter in District 6, my personal opinion is that Ms. Coyle is not a gay-friendly candidate and that the LGBT Community has a vested interest in voting on December 1st for the candidate which I believe to be pro-equality and claimed in my statement.

-The few persons who have expressed their disappointment at my personal statement have to date, provided no evidence to disprove the claims, and the majority have acknowledged that my above allegations are accurate.

-It is further concerning to me that some would acknowledge my allegations to be true, yet question whether they are a legitimate basis for believing that Ms. Coyle is not pro-equality.  I do believe that there is room for individual interpretation of comments, however the long track record and pattern of statements are what caused my concern.  I do recognize also, that some may not find Ms. Coyle’s position and/or statements as a foundation to believe she is not pro-LGBT equality.  I fully support their right to this opinion, although I strongly disagree.

-I do acknowledge that nearly six years ago, I made an inflammatory statement regarding transgender persons.  I also claim that since that time, I issued a public apology, took full responsibility for the hurt those comments created, and have demonstrated an extensive and long track record of working with the LGBT Community for equality of all of our members.  I challenge Ms. Coyle to do the same.

-Personal attacks and threats toward me and/or my partner by those supporting Ms. Coyle’s candidacy, will be ineffective in causing me to change my opinion on her positions regarding LGBT equality. 

-Although Ms. Coyle has attended and supported LGBT fundraisers and events since her interest and announcement of running for City Council, I do not believe this to be adequate in explaining her long track record of negative public comments toward the LGBT Community. 

-I extend my apologies to any personal friend who may be supporting Ms. Coyle and/or supporters of mine who disagree with my opinion. 

-I affirm that I strongly stand by the statement I made, believe my opinion to be based on solid evidence, and encourage those who disagree to refrain from attempts to distract from this important issue by lodging personal attacks.

-I encourage anyone who would like to discuss this further, to contact me directly.  It is my committment to LGBT equality which drives my desire to bring these issues to light, without regard for personal gain or motives.


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