Mokah Jasmine Johnson, co-founder and president of the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, announced she’s exploring a run for the Georgia House of Representatives in District 117, a press release announced.
“After being an activist for a few years, I’ve come to realize that no matter how hard I fight for progressive policy change on a local level, our state representatives can too easily block the change we need,” Johnson said. “That’s why I want a seat at that table — to help make sure our state’s policies help working class and poor people to advance, instead of holding them back.”
According to the press release, Johnson has filed paperwork with the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission that will allow her to begin fundraising for the 2020 election.
The district, long an unopposed Republican one, was flipped blue in the 2017 special election after former Representative Regina Quick was appointed to a Superior Court judgeship. Athens lawyer and Democrat Deborah Gonzalez held the seat for a year before losing to her 2017 opponent Houston Gaines in the 2018 election.
Gonzalez, who is now running for the soon-to-be vacated District Attorney’s office, voiced support for Johnson in the announcement.
“I’m thrilled that Mokah has taken this step,” Gonzalez said. “She’s a gifted leader with strong ties to the community and a true understanding of what life is like for working families in the district. She will be a terrific representative for the region.”
Among mentioning criminal justice and school safety bills, Johnson's announcement also cited the controversial anti-abortion “heartbeat” bill, passed in this year’s session and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, as one of the things that spurred her to run. Gaines voted for the legislation, which outlaws most abortions after six weeks.
AADM was founded in 2016 by Johnson and her husband Knowa Johnson “to draw attention to repeated allegations of discrimination by bars and business owners in downtown Athens.”