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|At least five gay candidates on Ga. ballot|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|September 16, 2011 00:00|
At least five openly gay candidates will appear on Nov. 8 ballots for local government seats in Georgia, although one is unopposed for re-election.
Kecia Cunningham, who in 1999 became Georgia’s first African-American openly gay elected official, is unopposed in her bid for another four-year term on the Decatur City Commission.
Cunningham represents District 2, Post B, on the nonpartisan commission in the gay-popular Atlanta suburb. The official candidate qualifying period for November’s election began Aug. 29 and ended Sept. 2.
No candidates qualified to run against Cunningham. During her time on the commission, Cunningham was a leading proponent of the city adopting a domestic partner benefits policy for its employees.
At least two gay candidates will be on the ballot for East Point City Council.
Openly gay incumbent East Point City Councilmember Lance Rhodes faces two challengers in his bid for reelection to represent Ward B: Marie T. Williams and Karen Rene.
Rhodes has already been endorsed by statewide gay political group Georgia Equality and the National Lesbian & Gay Victory Fund.
“During my two terms in office, East Point citizens have demonstrated vision and a steadfast resolve to support equal rights within the LGBT community,” Rhodes said in February when he received the endorsements. “We have seen a range of actions from the adoption of Domestic Partner Benefits to the inclusion of the LGBT community in our City Charter.”
Kenneth DeLeon, who is gay and came close to winning a seat on the East Point Council in 2009, qualified to run against incumbent Myron B. Cook in Ward C. Nanette Saucier is the third candidate in that race.
Milton City Council member Alan Tart, who is gay and lives in the North Fulton city with his partner and daughter, will face Lance Large on the November ballot for the council’s District 6 seat.
Tart, who is seeking his second term on the council, has been open about his family during his previous campaign and in his biography on the Milton City Council website, but was not known to gay political groups until earlier this summer.
“I knew from the onset that I did not want to hide who I was. I’m proud of who I am. But I did not want sexuality to be at the forefront of the job,” Tart told the GA Voice in an interview in June.
Pam Miller is running for the District 4 seat on the Savannah City Council and will face incumbent Mary Ellen Sprague on the November ballot.
Georgia Equality hosts a reception Sept. 21 for Miller, who is endorsed by GE and the Victory Fund. If successful in November’s election, Miller would be the city’s first openly gay elected official.
Georgia currently has 12 known openly gay elected officials, including three state legislators.
Top photo: Decatur City Commissioner Kecia Cunningham, Georgia’s first openly gay African-American elected official, did not draw a challenger for her re-election bid. (via Facebook)
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