Meet the 24-year-old queer woman run­ning for Si­mone Bell’s for­mer seat


By PA­TRICK SAUNDERS psaun­ders@the­

A spe­cial elec­tion will take place on Jan. 19 to de­cide who re­places les­bian for­mer Rep. Si­mone Bell (D-At­lanta) in House Dis­trict 58. Join­ing For­mer state Rep. Ralph Long (D-At­lanta) and at­tor­ney Kwame Thomp­son in the race is po­lit­i­cal new­comer Park Can­non, a 24-year-old women’s well­ness ad­vo­cate for the Fem­i­nist Women’s Health Cen­ter.

Bell called Can­non soon af­ter she de­cided to re­sign, en­cour­ag­ing her to make a run for the seat.

“One of the things that was really im­por­tant to me was to think about what’s miss­ing in the cham­ber and what’s miss­ing in the con­ver­sa­tions, what’s miss­ing in a seat for some­one who can ac­tu­ally vote?,” Bell says. “That’s how I started think­ing about who would be a par­tic­u­larly good per­son in this po­si­tion. And when I called Park I thought about re­pro­duc­tive jus­tice and what she could bring to that con­ver­sa­tion.”

Can­non stresses that while she’s new to pol­i­tics, she’s not new to pol­icy. She cites ed­u­ca­tion, jobs and health care (specif­i­cally Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion) as some of the is­sues of im­por­tance to her. And should Can­non win on Jan. 19, it will be an­other voice added to the mix in op­po­si­tion to RFRA.

“I do see the pos­si­bil­ity of dis­crim­i­na­tion if there is a bill passed into law that speaks about the im­por­tance of an institution with­out di­rectly ad­dress­ing the abil­ity to dis­crim­i­nate,” she says. “There has to be a nondis­crim­i­na­tion clause.”

Can­non’s elec­tion would be his­toric in that she would be the first openly queer-iden­ti­fied in­di­vid­ual in the state leg­is­la­ture.

“I iden­tify as queer, which is dif­fer­ent from les­bian,” she stresses. “I iden­tify as a per­son who is car­ry­ing with me at all times gen­derqueer peo­ple, asex­ual peo­ple, trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als. That is very dif­fer­ent and that is a good thing here in the state of Ge­or­gia. As a per­son who is out­spo­ken about my­self and out­spo­ken about my truth, I hope to bring heal­ing to peo­ple. I hope to bring ex­cite­ment to our com­mu­nity who are marginal­ized and un­der­rep­re­sented.”

Can­non says her cam­paign has raised $10,000 from over 90 donors, has $15,000 in pledges and has a fundrais­ing goal of $50,000.

Park Can­non is a po­lit­i­cal new­comer with a back­ground in re­pro­duc­tive jus­tice. (Cour­tesy photo)

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