Waites Wins HD 60 Special Election
Keisha Waites heard the cheers and applause from a small group of family and supporters who had gathered in her home on Tuesday night to wait for results from the House District 60 special election.
After hearing the roaring cheers from her upstairs bedroom, Waites said she stopped writing thank you cards because her hands were shaking too much to continue. She could no longer hold her pen.
After nine attempts to hold a political office, Waites had finally won.
The out lesbian and community activist has been on a mission to serve in the political arena for years, but on Tuesday night she found it hard to describe how she was feeling. Her friends and family were all smiles and overjoyed that the hard work had finally paid off with a victory.
Earlier in the day, Waites, a Democrat, said she wasn’t sure about the final results. She and her supporters never stopped campaigning and spreading the word. They were pounding the pavement until the very end.
"This is fantastic," said Waites with a relaxed smile.
She woke up that morning uncertain about how the night would end. She tried to stay optimistic and hopeful that the outcome would be different than the previous disappointments. This time though, something moved her to begin writing her thank you cards that evening.
"I was writing the cards because I knew," confessed Waites.
Ironically, this time around Waites had no victory speech written. "I have written a victory speech seven times," she told the group. "I didn’t write one tonight. I thought the win would be enough."
Even so, the group chanted for a speech.
"This has been a 10 year and for some of you an 11 year journey and a 30 day turn around ride," said Waites. "I believe this win is for those individuals who felt voiceless or felt left out of the process... Thank you for taking this journey with me."
Waites faced Theresa Middlebrooks and Latrenka Riley in the special election for the district that includes Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton Counties. Waites received 321 votes (54.2 percent); Riley received 161 votes (27.2 percent) and Middlebrooks received 110 votes (18.6 percent), according to the Georgia Secretary of State.
Former state Rep. Gloria Tinubu resigned in December to run for Congress in South Carolina.
Waites will become the fourth gay representative in the Georgia Legislature.
While Waites had a number of friends and supporters who helped her, she took the opportunity to thank her mother and sister for their continued support and encouragement.
While her daughter took center stage; Waites’ mother, Christine Harden, wearing a Keisha Waites’ campaign t-shirt like some in attendance, looked on proudly from the kitchen.
"I am elated, and I know she will do a good job," said Harden.
Harden admitted that she was concerned when she learned her daughter was running for another political office. "I believe in her, and I know that she will make the right decisions," added Harden. "Look at where we are now."
Doctor Mitzi Bickers, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church and community activist, was also in attendance. She encouraged the group to stay involved in the campaign and to be ready and willing to volunteer because Waites will have to run again in July in a regular primary and general election for the state Legislature.
Bickers said the officials who represent the disadvantaged areas need the support. "It’s most important to get her (Waites) message out there," she said. "We’ve got to be her mail carrier. They are our family. They belong to us."
Even though it was a long time coming, Waites took the opportunity to thank her supporters not only for their support but their patience.
"Tonight was a win for the little guy," Waites said, adding her win was also for those who have been disengaged in the process. "My first priority is to reach out to the constituents to listen and to hear their concerns."