State Sen. Steen Miles, 1946-2017, !Presente!
(APN) ATLANTA — Former State Sen. Ollisteen “Steen” Miles (D-Decatur), 70, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2014 and was an award-winning journalist with WXIA Channel 11 television news, passed away on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
Sen. Miles served in the Georgia State Senate from 2005 to 2007.
“I think she got in and she had been a reporter and had been interested for years in politics, writing about it. She saw that the grass looked greener on the other side. Sometimes, you have to make decisions that you have to live with, and sometimes you make decisions not based on, I guess, your deepest belief, but on negotiating – she didn’t like that part,” State Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) said.
“She would say, what I believe in is what I want to fight for. I don’t want to give up this to get this – I want to fight for the people who elected me,” Sen. James recalled.
“I was surprised when she wanted to run for higher office, she had only been there one term… I wanted her to stay because she had plenty of potential,” Sen. James said.
Miles’s experience with progressive issues dates back to the 1970’s, when she was one of four reporters who exposed some Illinois dairy farmers for selling sour milk to consumers.
The coverage won her and the other three reporters an Associated Press Award and influenced the Illinois legislature to pass a law mandating freshness dates, years before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did so.
She ran for the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor of Georgia in 2006, although Jim Martin won the nomination.
In 2014, Miles offered a progressive vision for Georgia when she sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
However, the Democratic Party of Georgia’s machine establishment, along with the corporate media establishment, especially Cox Media Group, pushed a centrist candidate with no political experience, Michelle Nunn, for the nomination.
Nunn did not support same-sex marriage or timely implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and was in favor of a U.S. invasion of Syria.
Atlanta Progressive News endorsed Miles. Nunn went on to win the nomination; however, lost to now-U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).
Miles ran twice for DeKalb County CEO, in 2000 and 2008, but didn’t win.
She was “a great reporter, a good friend, but a so-so politician,” Tom Houck told APN.
“Her policies were right and she had progressive issues. She just couldn’t win elections. She ran for offices that was hard for her to win and she didn’t have the financial backing or the political backing to do it,” Houck said.
“She used to call herself Steen Newslady, she was a trip. The good die young, man,” Houck said.
“I just love her. She was just a beautiful spirit. Very friendly, very open, and very helping,” Atlanta City Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9) told APN, adding Miles was “very open to public service and wanting to help others, not just herself.”
“Extremely courageous with her battle with cancer and very transparent about her battles with it, and of course everyone’s gonna miss her,” Moore said.
“She’s just so lovely. What I really loved about her, she had just a beautiful smile, she was always happy… she loved life and she lived it robustly and she was happy and she was full of love and joy,” Dr. Dwanda Farmer said.
“She could always see the positive in everything and everybody,” Farmer said.
“Even cancer didn’t discourage her, she continued to smile and be vibrant and be in love with her friends til the very end,” Farmer said.
“Steen was tough but fair. She was a no holds barred kind of person, but she was fair. What I liked about her, she developed her career. She was an assignment editor. She learned the business,” Maynard Eaton said.
“She had a presence about her, she had a style about her. She really epitomized the nickname Newslady – not Newswoman; Newslady,” Eaton said.
“She represented Black women and their strength, their integrity, and their character,” Eaton said.
“That presence and popularity helped propel her to politics. She had a special flair about her. She had an eye, an ear, and a sense of news, and she used those qualities in politics as well… she didn’t see the change much – just the job title,” Eaton said.
“I heard stories she’d be interviewing Black women and she’d say, ‘Honey why don’t you let me touch up your hair before we go on camera,” Eaton said.
In 2007, Miles published a memoir called Teenie: Newslady in Training, with Orman Press.
Miles is survived by two daughters, Kellie and Heather; and two grandchildren, William and Kellea.
Sen. Miles’s Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, April 08, 2017 at 1 p.m., at her church, Greenforest Community Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia.
Visitors are welcome to pay their respects from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 07, 2017 at the Gregory B. Levett and Sons’ South DeKalb Chapel.