Democrats line up to ‘flip the 7th’ Con­gres­sional District

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

Fol­low­ing the na­tion­wide move to “flip the 6th” Con­gres­sional District ear­lier this year, Democrats in Ge­or­gia’s 7th see a sim­i­lar blue light at the end of a long red tun­nel.

“[Rep. Rob Woodall] has been miss­ing in ac­tion. He just doesn’t rep­re­sent the cit­i­zens of Gwin­nett County. … He has failed and he needs to go,” said Gabe Okoye, chair­man of Gwin­nett County Democrats.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Elec­tions Com­mis­sion, five Demo­cratic can­di­dates filed to run: for­mer Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Carolyn Bour­deaux, Steven Reilly, Ethan Pham, Kath­leen Allen and David Kim. In­cum­bent Woodall is the only Repub­li­can on the ticket thus far.

Reilly chal­lenged Woodall in 2012 and lost. Like Bour­deaux and Allen, Pham is run­ning with health­care as a ma­jor is­sue, but cites con­cerns re­gard­ing Trump’s “di­vi­sive­ness and hate­ful rhetoric” as an­other rea­son for his can­di­dacy. Both Pham and Kim are con­cerned with im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy as well, and ed­u­ca­tion is a ma­jor talk­ing point for Allen.

“All of our can­di­dates are great … and any of them is a bet­ter op­tion than what we’ve got now,” Okoye said.

Bour­deaux and LGBT equal­ity

The 7th district in­cludes parts of Gwin­nett and Forsyth coun­ties, in­clud­ing Peachtree Cor­ners, Grayson, Lawrenceville and Cum­ming. Okoye said the main is­sues his district is con­cerned with now in­clude af­ford­able health­care and col­lege tu­ition, sui­cide rates of vet­er­ans and is­sues re­lated to youth. In terms of LGBT rights, “we will make sure that we don’t have a North Carolina here in Gwin­nett,” he said.

Though health­care and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump are what pulled her away from academia, Bour­deaux said there is more at stake.

“Hon­estly, the LGBTQ is­sues are ones all of a sud­den that are re­ally on the front lines, and what’s go­ing on is crazy,” she said.

Bour­deaux has been on the front lines of that fight for decades.

“I worked for [Ore­gon Sen.] Ron Wy­den back in 1995 when he was run­ning for the Se­nate. Dur­ing that time, that was the era of the De­fense of Mar­riage Act. That was when even folks you think of be­ing very lib­eral did not come out for mar­riage equal­ity,” Bour­deaux said.

She said Wy­den was about to be in­ter­viewed for his thoughts on DOMA and needed talk­ing points. She was in­structed to come up with some­thing.

“I wrote, ‘ mar­riage is about love and com­mit­ment, and I think we should treat peo­ple’ — and I think at that time it was the gay com­mu­nity — ‘just the same as we treat any­body else, and I sup­port mar­riage equal­ity,’” Bour­deaux said. “I slid the talk­ing points in front of him. He goes, ‘Mar­riage is about love and com­mit­ment,’ and he was the first se­na­tor to ever come out for mar­riage equal­ity.”

Bour­deaux said if elected, she hopes to work as best as she can on both sides of the aisle, in­clud­ing with newly elected Rep. Karen Han­del of Ge­or­gia’s 6th District, who will also be run­ning for re-elec­tion in 2018. Han­del’s record has shown her to flip-flop on is­sues of LGBT rights, and she re­cently in­di­cated she would be in fa­vor of ban­ning same-sex adop­tion.

“I’m happy to work with Repub­li­cans on is­sues where we can find com­mon ground, and to the ex­tent I can find com­mon ground with her, I will,” Bour­deaux said. “To the ex­tent I can be a voice to th­ese is­sues of ba­sic hu­man rights and hu­man dig­nity, that is some­thing I as­pire to be. My son just wrapped up his pre-K pro­gram and he doesn’t know the dif­fer­ence — He’s got friends at school who have two dad­dies and two moms. He makes no dis­tinc­tion. He doesn’t know to think that’s any­thing new or dif­fer­ent, and that’s what we need to get to here.”

Can the 7th turn blue?

“This district is very winnable for the Demo­cratic party be­cause right now, Gwin­nett County specif­i­cally is a mi­nor­ity-ma­jor­ity county,” Okoye said. “That is why we have quite some very strong can­di­dates run­ning this time around.”

Who­ever rep­re­sents the 7th will also rep­re­sent openly gay state Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville). Like Okoye, he’s dis­sat­is­fied with the job Woodall’s done in Congress.

“I am very con­cerned that my Congressman has so far voted 100 per­cent in line with Pres­i­dent Trump,” he said. “We need in­de­pen­dent thinkers and lead­ers who will put the in­ter­est of all those they serve be­fore par­ti­san pol­i­tics, rather than serve as a rub­ber stamp for an ide­o­log­i­cally driven po­lit­i­cal agenda.”

Park hopes who­ever wins in 2018 sup­ports the Equal­ity Act, which pro­vides pro­tec­tions for the LGBT com­mu­nity in the realms of em­ploy­ment, hous­ing and pub­lic ac­com­mo­da­tions.

“Fur­ther, I hope our elected of­fi­cials will stop tar­get­ing vul­ner­a­ble mi­nori­ties, such as mem­bers of the trans com­mu­nity, for po­lit­i­cal gain, and the per­pet­u­a­tion of fear-mon­ger­ing and divi­sion in our coun­try,” Park said.

Jon Os­soff, who ran against Han­del in the 6th District, said he be­lieves it’s im­por­tant for can­di­dates to be ac­ces­si­ble and show re­spect and hu­mil­ity to all vot­ers. Os­soff has not en­dorsed a can­di­date in the 7th District.

“I think that there are some who would have been cyn­i­cal about the pos­si­bil­ity that a can­di­date could com­pete in the 6th District and take such a strong, pro-LGBT stand, but I felt com­pelled to stand up for hu­man rights no mat­ter the pol­i­tics,” he said. “Democrats can com­pete ev­ery­where, and we should com­pete ev­ery­where. I’m glad that strong and qual­i­fied can­di­dates are step­ping up in the 7th. This is a mo­ment in his­tory that calls for cit­i­zens to stand up and fight.”


Au­gust 4, 2017

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