Atlanta mayoral candidates tackle LGBT issues
There’s a crowded ticket coming to ballot boxes this November: in addition to city council and school board races, Atlanta will elect its new mayor.
A handful of candidates are considered top contenders, and it is these that gay peer mentoring organization Rainbros. invited to its upcoming mayoral forum geared toward reaching the younger LGBT voting population.
“[James Brian Yancey, founder of Rainbros.] thought it would be a great idea to get some of the younger voters out there to get out and make a difference,” event organizer Charlie Paine said. “It’s a good way to get LGBTQIA youth involved in issues that matter to them.”
This is the second LGBT-geared mayoral forum, following one held in late June through the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Maria Saporta of SaportaReport moderated a discussion between eight candidates.
That forum included questions for Atlanta’s business community, and also touched on how the candidates felt about keeping openly gay police Chief Erika Shields on staff if elected.
Topics up for discussion at the Rainbros. event include Atlanta’s HIV epidemic, homeless youth and how the city is a “sanctuary city” in a way for LGBT youth in the Southeast.
“I know [HIV] has been an issue that hasn’t been talked about by our current mayor much at all,” Paine said. “We’re talking about policing
By DALLAS ANNE DUNCAN
as well, understanding that police aren’t really trained in helping LGBTQIA youth and this is something we could possibly make better.”
Paine said the younger voting crowd is a hard population to reach, and he hopes students at Atlanta’s colleges and universities come out in force to hear from their candidates.
“Local politics makes way more of a difference than national. It’s overshadowed, but the deci- sions that are made at the local level really changes the ideology of the population and can actually change national politics in the long run,” he said.
In preparation for the forum, Georgia Voice posed a question to the candidates: In what specific ways do you plan to protect LGBT citizens in Atlanta from both discrimination and bodily harm? Their answers, limited to approximately 75 words, are on page 8.
Maria Saporta, far left, moderated the June 23 Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce mayoral forum, which included eight candidates. Pictured, from left, are Peter Aman, Keisha Lance Bottoms, John Eaves, Vincent Fort and Kwanza Hall. (Photo by Dallas Anne Duncan)