Victory Fund is­sues early en­dorse­ment

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

Cathy Woolard is used to be­ing first and she in­tends to keep it that way. She was the first can­di­date to de­clare in the up­com­ing At­lanta may­oral race, the first openly gay of­fi­cial in Ge­or­gia his­tory when elected to the At­lanta City Coun­cil in 1997, and the first woman to serve as Coun­cil pres­i­dent when elected in 2002. If she pre­vails among an al­ready crowded field of can­di­dates in the 2017 elec­tion, Woolard would be­come the first openly LGBT mayor of At­lanta. Only two other ma­jor cities in the coun­try, Hous­ton and Port­land, have elected openly LGBT may­ors.

“Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of great At­lanta may­ors who also broke a glass ceil­ing, in­clud­ing May­nard Jackson, the first African-Amer­i­can mayor, and Shirley Franklin, the first fe­male mayor, would be a great honor,”said Woolard. “This is what makes At­lanta not only one of the great cities in Amer­ica, but through­out the world. It is im­por­tant to show future gen­er­a­tions that any­thing is pos­si­ble, re­gard­less of the color of your skin, whether you are male or fe­male, or even your sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.”

Woolard’s list of LGBT ac­com­plish­ments is ex­ten­sive (see side­bar) and she has not slowed down since she be­gan her ac­tivism with the At­lanta Com­mit­tee for the Na­tional March on Wash­ing­ton in 1987. Most re­cently, Woolard could be seen daily at the state Capi­tol where she lob­bied against House Bill 757, the anti-LGBT so-called “re­li­gious free­dom” bill, for Ge­or­gia Equal­ity. Gov­er­nor Deal ve­toed the bill in May.

“Cathy Woolard has spent much of her life lead­ing the fight for LGBT equal­ity around the coun­try and in Ge­or­gia, go­ing back to the 1980s,” said Jeff Gra­ham, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Ge­or­gia Equal­ity. “The progress we en­joy to­day re­ally rests on the shoul­ders of champions like Cathy. LGBT peo­ple would not have civil rights pro­tec­tions in At­lanta if it weren’t for her. We couldn’t have de­feated all of the anti-gay leg­is­la­tion in the

Septem­ber 30, 2016

Capi­tol in re­cent years if it weren’t for Cathy. She has been, and con­tin­ues to be, a re­mark­able leader for our com­mu­nity.”

Role in BeltLine’s cre­ation

Woolard’s ac­tivism, and abil­ity to get things done, ex­tends be­yond LGBT causes. An At­lanta na­tive and UGA grad­u­ate, her concern for the city has been most clearly demon­strated by her pro­posal and cham­pi­onship of the At­lanta BeltLine. While pres­i­dent of the Coun­cil, she held dozens of neigh­bor­hood meet­ings to get res­i­dents’ in­put and se­cured fund­ing for the now in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized ur­ban re­newal project. Ryan Gravel, whose masters the­sis writ­ten at Ge­or­gia Tech served as the model for the project, cred­its Woolard with its suc­cess.

“We wouldn’t be do­ing it with­out Cathy,” Gravel said. “She saw the vi­sion; she un­der­stood it in­tu­itively. She un­der­stood com­mu­ni­ties and the role they would play in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the project. Not only did she un­der­stand it and how to do it, she be­lieved in At­lanta and was will­ing to com­mit her staff and time to do it.”

A re­cent ar­ti­cle in the New York Times un­der­scored the pop­u­lar­ity and sig­nif­i­cance of the BeltLine, call­ing it “a stag­ger­ingly am­bi­tious en­gine of ur­ban re­vi­tal­iza­tion” and “the most im­por­tant rail-tran­sit project that’s been pro­posed in the coun­try, pos­si­bly in the world.” The news­pa­per also used a quote from Woolard’s cam­paign web­site which prom­ises “If you like the BeltLine now, you’re go­ing to love it when I am your mayor.”

The Gay and Les­bian Victory Fund, whose mis­sion is to elect openly LGBT of­fi­cials, has al­ready en­dorsed Woolard’s can­di­dacy, cit­ing its his­tor­i­cal and prac­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance. As many south­ern states at­tempt to strip its LGBT ci­ti­zens of hard-won rights, with a gay mayor, At­lanta can stand as a


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