Vie has eye on choice com­mit­tee seat

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

Openly gay com­mu­nity ac­tivist and flight at­ten­dant Rafer John­son missed out on nab­bing one of the top two slots in the May 24 pri­mary in House District 62, which in­cludes por­tions of Col­lege Park, Dou­glasville, East Point, and por­tions of Ful­ton and DeKalb coun­ties. But les­bian fam­ily law at­tor­ney Va­lerie Vie did make the cut and faces off against at­tor­ney Wil­liam Bod­die, Jr. on July 26.

Vie lists pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, in­creas­ing the min­i­mum wage and Med­ic­aid ex­pan­sion as the ma­jor is­sues of her cam­paign, but a win would also nab her a choice seat on the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee—the site of much drama in the fight over so-called “re­li­gious free­dom” leg­is­la­tion the last three years.

“It would be a first to have an LGBT per­son on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, so there will be a huge voice for us when we’re talk­ing about these things that have a neg­a­tive im­pact on our com­mu­nity,” Vie tells Ge­or­gia Voice.

Vie, a po­lit­i­cal new­comer, is trail­ing Bod­die in fundrais­ing. She has $27,773.41 in con­tri­bu­tions with $14,458.14 on hand ver­sus $82,486.04 in con­tri­bu­tions with $23,897.30 on hand for her op­po­nent as of the lat­est cam­paign dis­clo­sure re­port on June 30.

There is no op­po­si­tion in the Novem­ber gen­eral elec­tion, so if Vie out­shines Bod­die, she’ll join Rep. Karla Dren­ner (D-Avondale Es­tates), Rep. Keisha Waites (D-At­lanta) and Rep. Park Can­non (D-At­lanta) as the only openly LGBT mem­bers of the Ge­or­gia leg­is­la­ture.

Alem­bik leads in fundrais­ing

The other openly gay can­di­date in the July 26 runoffs is Gary Alem­bik, who is

July 22, 2016

run­ning for Su­pe­rior Court judge in Ful­ton County. This is the fam­ily law at­tor­ney, Ful­ton County mag­is­trate and hear­ing of­fi­cer’s first run for pub­lic of­fice. He tells Ge­or­gia Voice that he hadn’t con­sid­ered run­ning for of­fice un­til the re­tir­ing Judge Wendy Shoob sug­gested that he run.

He notes the size of Ful­ton County as one of the chal­lenges he’s faced, say­ing that while he’s been knock­ing on doors as much as he can, he’s had to rely on mail­ers and robo­calls to reach peo­ple.

“We’re talk­ing a mil­lion peo­ple from top to bot­tom in 75 miles,” he says. “So it’s dif­fi­cult to touch ev­ery­body on a per­sonal level. With a House race it’s more achiev­able be­cause you have a de­fined area and it’s very achiev­able to go to ev­ery neigh­bor­hood but I just can’t. So it’s a chal­lenge be­cause peo­ple frankly don’t know who they’re vot­ing for when they vote for a judge.”

He also notes another dif­fer­ence when look­ing at ju­di­cial races ver­sus leg­isla­tive— to re­tain im­par­tial­ity, a ju­di­cial can­di­date can’t talk about poli­cies.

“I’m a sit­ting judge so I’m very lim­ited in terms of what I can say. So I talk about things that are im­por­tant to me like jus­tice re­form and the im­por­tance of case man­age­ment,” Alem­bik says.

If elected, Alem­bik would be the sec­ond openly LGBT Su­pe­rior Court judge in Ful­ton County (join­ing Jane Bar­wick) and the first openly gay male. He un­der­stands the fo­cus on CON­TIN­UES ON PAGE 9

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