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|Election: Lesbian candidates headed for runoff in Fulton|
|by Laura Douglas Brown & Dyana Bagby|
|July 23, 2010 00:00|
In the Democratic primary for the District 6 seat on the Fulton County Commission, lesbian candidates Joan Garner and Keisha Waites are headed for a runoff.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial election results from Fulton County showed Waites in first place with 3,576 votes, or 41.45 percent, and Garner in second with 3,408 votes, or 39.5 percent. David Holder had 837 votes for 9.7 percent and Sally Smith had 807 votes for 9.35. Only 168 votes separated Waites and Garner.
Since no candidate received 50 percent plus one vote, the top two advance to a runoff on Aug. 10.
“We anticipated a runoff with four people in the campaign,” Garner said Wednesday morning. “We will be back out getting our message out there and getting people back to the polls on Aug. 10.”
At about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday at Serpas, where Garner was holding her election night party, the candidate announced to the crowd remaining she was ready to head into the runoff and asked for their support for the next three weeks.
“This is the right time and the right role for me to continue to serve all of the communities important to us. It is not over. We will win this thing. But we will need your support. Let’s fire it up. Our team is in place and we are ready to go,” she said.
“You need genuine support and representation at Fulton County and I am here to represent each and every one of you,” Garner said.
Garner was endorsed by three LGBT groups — Georgia Equality, the Atlanta Stonewall Democrats and the Victory Fund, a national organization that supports LGBT candidates.
Should either Garner or Waites win, she would be the first openly gay representative on the Fulton County Commission.
Waites could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Garner, a longtime activist who worked for Mayor Maynard Jackson as senior adviser on gay and lesbian issues, is principal of Garner Results Inc., a nonprofit and philanthropic consulting firm.
Waites works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and has a long record of seeking elected office.
In 2001, Waites – who went by Sean instead of Keisha on the ballot at that time – ran for the at-large Post 1 seat on the Atlanta City Council.
In 2002, she ran for State Senate District 36, placing fourth in the Democratic primary.
In 2004, she was one of four candidates who applied to temporarily fill the Atlanta City Council District 12 seat, but council members did not pick her for post.
Waites then ran for the Atlanta City Council in 2005 and ran for Fulton County Commission chair in 2006.
She ran for State House District 61 in 2008 and received the endorsement of Georgia Equality in that race. Waites again ran for Atlanta City Council in 2009.
“I’m proud of every race I’ve been in and I believe it shows I’m committed to the process and have a strong desire to serve,” Waites told the Georgia Voice shortly after qualifying for this year’s ballot.
Because no Republicans qualified, the Democratic primary and runoff will effectively decide who gets the seat.
Top photo: Joan Garner (center, right) with partner Jane Morrison, looks over election results with Beth Schapiro (far left), strategist for Garner’s campaign team. (by Dyana Bagby)
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