Cathy Woolard’s campaign, which brings her to Dallas in January, could have nationwide ramifications



Chris Cash  |   Georgia Voice
Special to Dallas Voice

Cathy Woolard is used to being first, and she intends to keep it that way.

She was the first candidate to declare in the 2017 Atlanta mayoral race, the first openly gay official in Georgia history when elected to the Atlanta City Council in 1997, and the first woman to serve as council president when elected in 2002.

And if she prevails in her current campaign, Woolard will become the first LGBT mayor of Atlanta. Only three other major cities in the country — Houston, Portland and Seattle — have elected LGBT mayors.

“Following in the foot steps of great Atlanta mayors who also broke a glass ceiling — including Maynard Jackson, the first African-American mayor, and Shirley Franklin, the first female mayor — would be a great honor,” Woolard said. “This is what makes Atlanta not only one of the great cities in America, but throughout the world.  It is important to show future generations that anything is possible, regardless of the color of your skin, whether you are male or female, or even your sexual orientation.”

Eric Johnson of Dallas is hosting a fundraiser for Woolard in next week because “with all that’s happening in the country, it’s more important than ever to elect LGBT people at all levels of government,” he said. “Cathy Woolard’s race for mayor of Atlanta is such an important priority in 2017. She will make a fantastic mayor for Atlanta.”

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, whose mission is to elect openly LGBT officials, has endorsed Woolard’s candidacy, citing its historical and practical significance. GLVF’s vice president of political operations and communication, Martine Apopca, called Woolard’s campaign for mayor of Atlanta “one of the most exciting and important in the country for LGBT equality. We endorsed Cathy more than a year before her election because of her visionary leadership on the city council and because her candidacy represents an important step toward a more inclusive South – where LGBT elected officials are severely under-represented.”

Woolard lead the Atlanta City Council in passing Georgia’s only comprehensive civil rights bill protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations; in adding  “gender identity” to Atlanta’s non-discrimination policy; and in suing Georgia’s state insurance to allow benefits for LGBTQ partners of state employees
Woolard was also the first national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, and most recently, she lobbied against House Bill 757, the Georgia Religious Liberty Bill, for Georgia Equality. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the bill last May.

“Cathy Woolard has spent much of her life leading the fight for LGBT equality around the country and in Georgia, going back to the 1980s,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality. “LGBT people would not have civil rights protections in Atlanta if it weren’t for her.”

In a recent fundraising letter former Houston mayor, Anise Parker, called Woolard’s bid “one of the most important for the LGBT movement in the next year, “ adding that “Cathy is a remarkable leader for our movement.”

House parties in Dallas, Austin and Houston are planned for the second week in January to raise funds for Woolard’s campaign. To learn more about Woolard’s campaign visit

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2017