Former State Rep. Mable Thomas Running for Ashe’s Former Seat
(APN) ATLANTA — Former State Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas, who previously served in the State House of Representatives, will be running for the seat of former State Rep. Kathy Ashe (D-Atlanta), the candidate told Atlanta Progressive News.
Due to redistricting, Thomas was recently redistricted into Ashe’s District, which is District 56.
“I decided to run based on my sense of duty and service. I look around the District 56, and I’ve seen a lot of things undone and it seems to me that a community voice and the people’s voice must once again be heard at the State Capitol,” Thomas told APN.
“What really got me is the 99 million dollars given to Georgians as their share of the national mortgage settlement. None of it is going to the community and people are losing their homes every day,” Thomas said.
“I thought about the fact that Georgia has a 19 billion dollar budget and that does not really include services that’s gonna empower people and ensure our state go forward,” Thomas said, adding that that will only happen “if you have strong families, community participation, jobs, affordable housing, and health care for all Georgians.”
“In and out of elected positions, I have continued to work for the people. This will be another opportunity to sort of change the dynamics of business as usual at the State Capitol,” Thomas said.
The new District 56 makes a diagonal shape going from southwest to northeast Atlanta. It includes parts of southwest Atlanta such as Audobon Forest, Dixie Hills, West Lake, the West End, Atlanta University Center, Vine City, English Avenue, and Washington Park, all the way northeast through parts of west Midtown, Ansley Park, and Piedmont Heights.
Thomas previously served in the District 55 seat, which is currently represented by State Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta). Taylor has been redistricted into a race with incumbent State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta). [Kwabena Nkromo is also collecting signatures to run as a Green Party candidate in that race.]
Ashe recently announced her retirement, after the Republican-turned-Democrat became increasingly weary of what she perceives as the lack of a space for moderates in the current political climate of the Georgia Legislature.
“While I am confident that I could win with hard work and the backing you and other supporters have generously provided over the years, I want to spend my time and resources more productively than the current polarized political situation permits,” Ashe wrote in her letter to constituents dated April 10, 2012.
“As a ‘raging moderate’ I am caught between the far right and the far left. The computerized reapportionment process has across the country drawn districts that force primaries to the extremes. There are very few districts where moderation and consensus prevail. In the Georgia General Assembly, as in Congress, moderation is endangered and often scorned or marginalized. I regret that I do not see change coming soon,” Ashe wrote.
Thomas is one of Atlanta’s strongest progressive advocates, and she is well-known in the District as a community leader.
Thomas was first elected to the State House in 1984, at the time the youngest member of the House. She first served from 1985 to 1992.
In 1992, Thomas ran against US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) for the first time and lost.
In 1997, she was elected to the City Council of Atlanta, Post 1-at-large seat. She served from 1998 to 2001.
In 2001, Thomas ran for City Council President, in a five-way race with Michael Julian Bond, Julia Emmons, Morris Finley, and Cathy Woolard. Bond and Woolard went into a Run-off, and Woolard prevailed.
In 2002, Thomas was reelected to the State House, where she served until 2008.
In 2006, Thomas stood with US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), as McKinney spoke out over the backlash that ensued when DC Capitol Police grabbed McKinney from behind and McKinney reportedly reacted by assaulting the officer in some way.
In 2008, Thomas challenged US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in the Democratic Primary for the second time. In the Primary, Lewis won with 69 percent of the vote to Markel Hutchins’s 15.6 percent and Thomas’s 15.4 percent.
Meanwhile, State Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta), a campaign operative and mentee to State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), was elected to Thomas’s former House seat, District 55.
In 2009, Thomas was one of the only elected officials to openly endorse Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood (Post 2-at-large) for Mayor of Atlanta, saying she felt that Norwood was the true grassroots neighborhood activist.
In 2010, Thomas ran again for her old State House seat, District 55, against State Rep. Taylor. However, Taylor won, 56 percent to 44 percent.
Over the last few years, Thomas has been involved with revitalization efforts in the English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods on Atlanta’s westside, as founder and director of the Greater Vine City Opportunities Program (GVCOP). One of GVCOP’s initiatives has been to convert the former English Avenue Elementary School into a community center.
As Atlanta Progressive News has reported over the years, Thomas has been an outspoken activist in the community, particularly on issues related to homeless people. She has spoken out against the Gateway Center for evicting homeless women, spoken against the demolition of public housing, and spoken against the panhandling ordinance.
Thomas was also a strong advocate for police reform after Atlanta Police murdered a 92 year-old woman, Kathryn Johnston, who they later falsely accused of being a drug dealer.
Among other things, Thomas was also a strong opponent of the privatization of Grady Hospital.
More recently, Thomas opposed the proposed closures of several Atlanta Public Schools, six of the originally proposed thirteen which she says are located in District 56.
Ken Britt, an openly homosexual political operative and former Executive Director of the Alston & Bird law firm, is also running for the State House District 56 seat.
Britt served as Chairman of Alex Wan’s 2009 campaign for City Council District 6 and as Treasurer of Joan Garner’s 2010 campaign for Fulton County Commission District 6.
Britt served on the Victory 2010 Coordinated Campaign for the Democratic Party of Georgia. He has donated money to numerous Democratic candidates and causes.
He serves on the Board of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Georgia Democratic Party State Committee, and as an Ambassador for the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
If elected, he would be the first openly homosexual man to be elected to the Legislature [Rep. Rashad Taylor came out of the closet after being elected].
Georgia Equality, an organization that supports candidates who support equality on the basis of sexual orientation, has already endorsed Britt in the race, according to Georgia Voice magazine.
“I’ve been endorsed in the past by Georgia Equality,” Thomas told APN.
“I’m a little sad they’ve gone so quickly to endorse him without looking at the record and seeing I’m a consistent strong vote to ensure the rights of the LGBT community are respected,” Thomas said, adding that she supports laws to protect against job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; anti-bullying laws; and housing discrimination protection.
GE has also endorsed three other openly homosexual candidates, including State Reps. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta), Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), and Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta). GE did not endorse State Rep. Taylor, citing Rep. Gardner’s strong history of supporting equality.
Thomas said she believes she should have gotten the same consideration as Rep. Gardner; both are heterosexual.
“We want to make sure Georgia Equality does not have a double standard on fairness as it relates to their endorsement process,” Thomas said.
Britt previously served on the Board of Georgia Equality.