Cathy Woolard on what’s next, heal­ing di­vi­sion

GA Voice - - Front Page -

There were 16 out LGBT can­di­dates that ran statewide this year, but only three won. You’re a po­lit­i­cal veteran — you’ve won cam­paigns, lost cam­paigns. What ad­vice do you have for those who didn’t make the cut this time?

For the 13 of us, good for you for run­ning. You can’t win if you don’t run. Peo­ple have to try and gain the ex­pe­ri­ence of run­ning to be able to be suc­cess­ful, and also to build a bench of peo­ple who ac­tu­ally know how to work on cam­paigns. That’s a real chal­lenge here in Ge­or­gia is to find peo­ple who have any cam­paign ex­pe­ri­ence. That’s not just gay peo­ple or gay can­di­dates; that’s ev­ery­where.

Did the num­ber of out LGBT can­di­dates sur­prise you?

I thought it was pretty great. I think the fact that we con­tinue to see peo­ple of­fer­ing them­selves for of­fice — es­pe­cially peo­ple who maybe haven’t been as con­nected in to the or­ga­nized po­lit­i­cal gay com­mu­nity — is pretty ex­cit­ing.

De­cem­ber 22, 2017

We seem to have a lot more suc­cess in elect­ing peo­ple in smaller ju­ris­dic­tions than we do in some of the more high pro­file races [two of this year’s wins were in Do­rav­ille and the other was in Hi­awassee]. That’s some­thing we ought to re­ally look at. We’ve seen it when Keisha Waites got elected in Clay­ton County. We’ve seen a bunch of elected of­fi­cials in Pine Lake over the years. We’ve seen gay elected of­fi­cials in De­catur.

In com­mu­ni­ties that are smaller where peo­ple have more civic vis­i­bil­ity in a con­cen­trated way, there’s a lot of op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to get a step in. It doesn’t mean the race is any eas­ier — the sum to­tal of votes is smaller, the bud­get is a lit­tle more at­tain­able and peo­ple’s civic en­gage­ment tends to be a lit­tle more prom­i­nent in those races be­cause if you work on one com­mit­tee, you’ve prob­a­bly touched a good por­tion of the city that in­flu­ences peo­ple.

Any ar­eas you’ve heard about to keep an eye on?

Right now I don’t know. I think the com­mu­nity ought to have a pretty strong con­ver­sa­tion that we don’t have some­one gay on the At­lanta City Coun­cil for the first time in 20 years. I think that’s go­ing to be some­thing that needs to be ad­dressed in a strate­gic way. I think we have op­por­tu­ni­ties in this up­com­ing elec­tion to elect peo­ple to the Gen­eral Assem­bly. Ev­ery­thing will be up next time around and we ought to be look­ing at those op­por­tu­ni­ties.

We’re speak­ing two days af­ter the elec­tion in Alabama [Demo­crat Doug Jones beat anti-LGBT Repub­li­can for­mer judge Roy Moore for a U.S. Se­nate seat]. I’m cu­ri­ous, what did you ex­pect go­ing in and what was your re­ac­tion to the re­sults?

You know, I have to­tally stopped hav­ing ex­pec­ta­tions. I re­ally have. I’ve just stopped try­ing to pre­dict what’s go­ing on be­cause I’ve re­al­ized that I ex­ist in my own bub­ble and it’s not a very ac­cu­rate read of what’s re­ally hap­pen­ing in this coun­try or even in this state or in this city. So I’m not go­ing to make any as­sump­tions any­more.

So you’re recharg­ing. You’ve been in the spot­light for a good while on the cam­paign. What’s next?

Right now I’m just try­ing to fig­ure out what I’m go­ing to do for work. I kind of put my busi­ness to bed, at least tem­po­rar­ily, so I could put all my at­ten­tion into the elec­tion. Now I’ve got to get back to work and con­trib­ute to [ Woolard’s wife] Karen [Geney] and I’s house­hold in a lit­tle bit bet­ter way. She’s pretty much been car­ry­ing ev­ery as­pect of it. That’s re­ally what I’m fo­cused on right now is to try and put my life back in or­der. I’m ex­cited about hav­ing a fresh start and look­ing at things again, so that’s re­ally what I’m putting my time into.

Peo­ple are talk­ing a lot about di­vi­sion in the wake of the may­oral runoff re­sults. You had a lot of peo­ple — par­tic­u­larly in the LGBT com­mu­nity — that lined up be­hind Mary Nor­wood, es­pe­cially af­ter you and Ge­or­gia Equal­ity en­dorsed her. What thoughts do you have on what the LGBT com­mu­nity and the city can do, con­sid­er­ing a num­ber of peo­ple feel a lit­tle burnt that their can­di­date didn’t win.

The elec­tion is over. I think peo­ple should rally around Keisha and do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to make her suc­cess­ful. She still needs to have help in for­mu­lat­ing her vi­sion on how she can play a role ad­vanc­ing equal­ity for the LGBT com­mu­nity, and I think she’s will­ing to learn. It’s not a place where she’s had a tremen­dous amount of ex­pe­ri­ence. I think she’s com­pletely open to gain­ing an un­der­stand­ing and tak­ing sug­ges­tions on how she can be help­ful. She’s a re­ally nice per­son. I like her a lot. Again, it’s now time for us to all fig­ure out how we can help her be the best mayor she can be. That’s what I in­tend to do.

“The elec­tion is over. I think peo­ple should rally around Keisha and do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to make her suc­cess­ful.”

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