Sexuality and politics have been a hot-button topic over the past year with both strides and setbacks being made for LGBT rights across the world. Atlanta may be making a big stride of its own thanks to 26-year-old economist Jonathan W. Jones, who is running for the Atlanta City Council District 5.
If Jones, who is running on a platform to try to implement “direct democracy,” his new method of allowing constituents to directly vote on pending legislation via smartphone or computer, wins the seat he will become Atlanta’s first openly gay black gay man to be elected to the position.
“I would send a tremendous message to have a black gay man, the first, elected to the Atlanta City Council in the city,” Jones said in an interview with The GA Voice.
Jones originally qualified to run for District 2 but later learned that he had been placed in District 5 thanks to redistricting. However, Jones won’t be the onlt LGBT person running for a seat in District 5 held by incumbent Natalyn Archibong.
Matt Rinker, who is endorsed by Log Cabin Republicans, and lesbian candidate Christine Enterkine are also running as openly gay.
But Jones, who claims he’s “not a politician,” has a great chance of standing out from the crowd thanks to his “direct democracy” plan.
“This is a way to allow technology to play a role in the decision making process,” he said. “Under my plan of direct democracy, you choose for yourself. People log in anytime there is an initiative up for a vote and each person gets to vote,” he said.
Jones says he will vote for whatever the majority votes for, claiming that this new method truly allows everyone to have a say in making changes.
“Each person is getting an equal seat at the table,” he said.
Jones may also be able to gain the favor of the public thanks to his decision to decline the raise that the Atlanta City Council members voted to give themselves. He says that he would instead return $84,000 that he would receive over his four-year term from the pay raise back to taxpayers.
“I will only accept the $39,000 salary [in place now]. I see myself as a guardian of taxpayer dollars,” he said. “Last December the council voted to give themselves a raise. Most Atlantans don’t have that authority. Why does City Hall have the authority to do it? I will give 100 percent of the raise back to the people and I have a message board on my website where they can say what they want to do with the money.”
Well, Jones may not be your typical politician but he certainly seems to be talking a political language that the people like. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all turns out on Election Day.
Until then, check out some other famous LGBT politicians below. –nicholas robinson