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City Council candidate looks to keep Midtown District 6 seat gay

By Regina Willis

A gay Atlanta real estate agent is campaigning for the Atlanta City Council, hoping to continue a 20-year tradition of an LGBT person filling the District 6 post.

Kirk Rich confirms that he’s a candidate for the seat, which is being vacated by City Council member Alex Wan, the panel’s first-ever openly gay man. The two-term incumbent is instead running for the citywide City Council president seat.

With a background in real estate, and work as a board member of Invest Atlanta, Rich says that his primary focus is smarter development for Atlanta.

“I’ve got the right skillset, and kind of a needed skillset that’s kind of been lacking on the council,” Rich says. “To help, to be a partner, and, again, really understand a lot of the development issues when it comes to real estate.”

District 6 includes portions of Midtown, Ansley Park, Morningside, Virginia-Highland and Cheshire Bridge Road, running north to the city’s borders with Brookhaven and Buckhead. Rich is one of two openly gay candidates running for the seat. Out gay teacher Lock Whiteside is the other gay candidate in the race.

District 2, currently represented by City Council member Kwanza Hall, now covers more of Midtown than District 6, but the latter has long been considered the LGBT seat on council, providing the panel with its only LGBT member for the last 20 years. Cathy Woolard, who is now running for Atlanta Mayor, became the state’s first openly LGBT elected official when she won the District 6 seat in 1997. Anne Fauver, a lesbian, won in 2001 and served two terms. Wan won in 2009 and nabbed a second term in 2013.

Rich operates Rich Real Estate Services in Duluth. He has been involved with Jerusalem House, and he serves on the Invest Atlanta board, which oversees the Beltline and other economic development projects in Atlanta.

“I am an incredibly skilled, strong candidate who happens to be gay, but I am happy to be gay,” Rich says.

A relative newcomer to politics, Rich says that the turnover at City Hall in elections this November – with many candidates leaving their seats to pursue higher office – creates an opportunity for new voices to step forward.

“It’s exciting,” he says. “New mayor, new council president, a lot of new council people. So there’s a lot of opportunity to really have a new imprint.”

In 2013, a plan to push adult businesses, and eventually some bars including gay clubs, pitted Wan against some LGBT people who opposed the effort. Since then, development projects have forced changes along the corridor.

Rich says that he sees the changes as somewhat of a natural evolution.

“There’s a point where you can’t justify a low density club of any kind on dirt that’s super expensive,” he says. “That’s why you’ve seen several [clubs] be shut down. But what they are putting back isn’t another building that’s the same size. It’s a huge, massive, multi-unit residential development or mixed use development.”

Visit kirkforatlanta.com

Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce local members and larger mission at annual gala

By Matthew Holley

LGBT business owners of Atlanta gather each September for one glamorous night in celebration of their mission and members during the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Community Awards Dinner.

The September 22 gala, a chance for AGLCC to aid and celebrate its mission to create LGBT economic opportunities and business inroads for LGBT professionals, expands on its year-round roster of events for networking, professional development, educational programming and promotion of member businesses and corporate partners. Opening the way for LGBT businesses and professionals for AGLCC also includes political advocacy that influence individual lives beyond the business sector.

AGLCC President Daniel Dunlop describes this year’s awards as the organizations highest honors for going above and beyond for the mission.

“I think the awards are a recognition of achievement and recognition of contribution of the LGBT and allied community,” Dunlop says. “It is a remarkable achievement among your peers. Being bestowed an award at the banquet shows each individual you are a standout business, ally or partner for us all.”

Selecting each category’s nominees can be a daunting process, but Dunlop says that there is one particular thread that unites all of its nominees, year in and year out.

“The thread that ties all of the nominees together is the success component,” Dunlop explains. “I do not necessarily mean only in economic success, but an undeniable success in embodying the values of AGLCC and its leadership. This kind of success is infallible, and this year’s nominees’ success speaks volumes.”

In addition to the annual general awards two members also receive the evening’s highest awards for outstanding and significant contributions. John Haupert, CEO of Grady Health Systems, receives the Van Guard Award, and Mitchell Gold, the co-CEO of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture designs, will receive the Rosemary Jones Icon Award.

“Mitchell is doing outstanding things with a group called Faith in America,” Dunlop says. “This courageous group is intervening in religious organizations that are disregarding LGBT youth. He is helping to bridge that gap and stop that from happening.

The other nominees of the night are listed as follows:

Small Business of the Year:
Georgia Voice, DiOGi Pet Services, Transformation Journeys Worldwide, Creative Approach and 18:21 Bitters.

Businessman of the Year:
Carlton Brown of Occasional Occasions by Carlton, Bill Kaelin of Bill Kaelin Marketing, Dillard Jones of The Concierge Guy and William Duffee-Braun of Peach ATL and Goliath Atlanta.

Businesswoman of the Year:
Gabrielle Claiborne of Transformation Journeys Worldwide, Emma Foulkes of Greenwood Wealth Management, Jan Stepp of Pizazzz Promotions, Inc., JoAnn Pfeiffer of Eastern Data Systems and Jan Levie of Handy Entertainment.

The Guardian Angel Award finalists:
Georgia Equality, Pride School Atlanta, AID Atlanta, Living Room and Out Front Theatre Company.

Rising Star Award:
Courtney DeDi of DiOGi Pet Services, Kat Dyer-Wall of Gayborhood, Colton Griffin of WMSight, Richard Pope of Creative Approach and Jamieson Cox of First Data.

Corporate Ally Category:
Cox Enterprises, Georgia Power, Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, BB&T and Lab Monkey Communications.

Member of the Year:
Anne Clarke of The Clarke Agency, Chip Ivie of Keller Williams Realty, Luis Ruiz of MassMutual Financial Group Perimeter, Bryon Brown of PPi and Luis Quinones of Four Seasons Hotel.

Want to Go?
What: AGLCC Community Awards
When: Friday, September 22
Where: Westin Atlanta Buckhead
3391 Peachtree Road NE
More info and tickets: atlantagaychamber.org

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