Atlanta mayoral candidates vie for LGBT vote as runoff nears
“I didn’t want the true diversity of this city to … be something [my son] encountered one day. I wanted it to be something that he lived each and every day so he could grow up with a respect for what diversity truly is,” Bottoms said during the MSR event. “I ask that if you see fit to support me as mayor that you see fit to be a true partner with me, meaning correct me when I’m wrong; educate me in the areas I’m ignorant of.”
Bottoms said she wants her commitment to Atlanta’s diversity to be evident by ensuring the LGBT community and other minorities have a seat at the table.
“That’s something I say to you as we talk about our LGBT community, it shouldn’t be something extraordinary. It should be a way of life for the city,” she said.
Bottoms did not respond back to Georgia Voice’s questions by press time.
Norwood said she wants to ensure At- lanta is doing all it can to fight “the AIDS crisis,” including working more closely with Fulton County and ensuring Atlantans have access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. Other top issues for her are protecting the LGBT community from so-called “religious freedom” bills and facing the problem of homelessness for LGBT youth head-on.
“I have said that I am going to have advisory councils for major issues in town,” she said. “I believe the people who are involved every day are the people who can help us craft, either legislatively or through city action, the best solutions. I will be making sure that there is a liaison, an advisory council to address how we deal with homelessness in general and LGBT youth specifically.”
Party politics in a nonpartisan election
Though the Atlanta mayoral race is, in theory, nonpartisan, candidates across the board made it clear to voters that all were Democrats, except for Norwood, who is running as an Independent. She has straight and LGBT people on her campaign staff, some of whom vote Republican and are staunch supporters of President Donald Trump, whose record on LGBT issues has been under criticism since Election Day 2016.
That hasn’t sat well with some Democrats, including the Democratic Party of Georgia, which endorsed Bottoms in the race.
“Just looking at her platform and seeing over the last couple of months and dozens of forums, she is obviously the only candidate in this runoff that shares the values and priorities for the city of Atlanta,” said Michael Smith, the out communications director for Georgia Democrats. “[Bottoms] has always been an ally. … She talked about openly having discussions with her sons about LGBTQ issues, about how to treat people with the same respect as you would like to be treated and make sure that they are. It’s just obvious she has the values that definitely line up with ours.”
The party even launched ads against Norwood that point out her heavy Republican ties.
“It being a nonpartisan race is just a technicality with the law,” Smith said. “To be honest with ourselves, every race is a political race, and it does have to do with specific party politics as well. We’ve had a Democratic mayor for Atlanta since 1881 and it is incumbent upon us to make sure that that tradition continues.”
Norwood told Georgia Voice those claims against her were “patently untrue,” citing her record of consistently showing up for the LGBT community. She was the first of the candidates to come out for marriage equality and the first to walk on the new rainbow crosswalks at 10th and Piedmont earlier this year, and said she aims to be the unifying candidate.
“If you look at my views and my legislative record, it leans Democratic,” she said. “I am pro-choice. I am 100 percent for all rights for every individual regardless of nationality, ethnic background or orientation. And third, I voted for Hillary Clinton.”
“While the next mayor of Atlanta may not be a member of the LGBTQ community, she will likely not be successful in her bid without making overtures and commitments to this community.”
November 24, 2017