In the race to see which Democrat would fill the soon-to-be vacated State House District 56 seat, former state representative ‘Able’ Mable Thomas appears to have defeated former Atlanta law firm executive Ken Britt on Tuesday.
The unofficial results show that with all of 28 precincts reporting, Thomas garnered 65 percent of the votes to Britt's 35 percent (3,061-1,643 votes). If those results become official, Thomas will replace long-time District 56 incumbent Kathy Ashe (D-Atlanta), who announced this past spring that she would not seek reelection in 2013 after serving 10 terms.
There is no Republican candidate running in District 56 in November.
Thomas, who represented District 55 from 1985-1992 and again from 2002-2008, had been strongly encouraged by some of her former constituents to run for the District 56 seat after its lines were redrawn in 2011 and Ashe decided not to run next year.
This was her second attempt to return to the state legislature since her unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2008, when she challenged John Lewis of Georgia’s 5th congressional district. In 2010, Thomas challenged Rashad Taylor for her old seat, but lost by a small margin.
Thomas ran on a campaign platform highlighted by promises to support public education and economic development while making public safety a priority. She has a reputation as an advocate for the homeless and has spoken out against the city panhandling ordinance and the demolition of public housing.
District 56 was remapped after the 2010 Census into a diagonal shape district running from northeast to southwest Atlanta including Piedmont Heights, Ansley Park, Georgia Tech, parts of Midtown, English Avenue, Vine City, Washington Park, West Lake, Dixie Hills, Hunter Hills, Ashview Heights, Atlanta University Center, Morehouse College, Mozley Park, University Community Campus, Florida Heights, Chalet Woods and Audobon Forest.
Professionally, Thomas has been successful as executive director of the Greater Vine City Opportunities Program, Inc., which provides youth and family enrichment and educational opportunities for high-risk urban youth. Recently, she was able to purchase the Historic English Avenue Elementary School in the English Avenue community which will be converted into a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly, high-tech, global community center.
As a consistent support of human rights, Thomas has voted with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities on issues including voting against Georgia's Defense of Marriage Act, voting for increased funding for HIV/AIDS programs and supporting an LGBT-inclusive Hate Crimes bill in the Georgia legislature. In June she sponsored a HIV/AIDS Health Spot Mobile Unit in the English Avenue neighborhood that allowed for testing and counseling ‘on the spot’!
Briefly a member of the Atlanta City Council in the late 1990s, Thomas voted with Cathy Woolard for domestic partnership benefits and supported adoption for gay and lesbian couples.
If Britt had been elected, it is believed that the longtime gay activist would have become the first gay man to have come out before serving in the legislature.
“We did not achieve the hoped-for result in yesterday’s election,” Britt said in a statement released Wednesday, “but I would like to thank every person and organization who gave this campaign the incredible strength and momentum it had. I am both humbled and honored by the phenomenal support shown by my friends and neighbors in the District (and beyond), and, although the voters ultimately chose another voice to represent them in the State Legislature, I look forward to continuing my commitment to community service.”
Britt received endorsements from several gay-friendly organizations including the Georgia Equality, Atlanta Stonewall Democrats, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
In 2009, Britt served as chairman of Alex Wan’s successful Atlanta city council race, and as treasurer and campaign advisor for Joan Garner’s election to the Fulton County commission in 2010. But the former executive director of the Alston & Bird law looks to have had his bid for office denied Tuesday by Thomas.