Centering her candidacy around representing “the people,” Mokah Jasmine Johnson packed The Max Canada with her supporters as she launched her campaign for the District 117 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives on Jan. 18.

Running as a Democrat, Johnson’s platform includes expanding Medicaid, banning assault rifles alongside other gun reform, protecting abortion rights and increasing investment in minority and female-owned businesses.

“I want to fight for the people at the state level, I want to fight for justice and equity on a state level,” Johnson said. “Because I know too many people that still have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet.”

The rally featured several prominent community members who endorsed Johnson’s candidacy, citing her record as an activist and their personal experiences with her. Notable speakers included District 5 Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Tim Denson, Athens PRIDE Vice President Cameron Harrelson and former District 117 Rep. Deborah Gonzalez.

“Mokah told you I asked her to step up for this seat. What she didn’t tell you was that I was a real pain in the ass about it,” Gonzalez said. “Because I made one promise to this district — that seat would never go unopposed again.”

In 2012, 2014 and 2016, Republicans campaigning for the District 117 seat ran unopposed. Gonzalez, running as a Democrat, won the seat in a special election in 2017 against Republican Houston Gaines. Gaines won the seat back in 2018.

Denson and Harrelson criticized Gaines for voting against H.B. 426, which would establish penalties for hate crimes. Georgia is one of four states to not have hate crime laws, so Johnson supports passing “bipartisan, LGBTQ-inclusive” hate crime legislation.

“On this, we have no excuses,” Harrelson said. “[If] Stacey Abrams can come within a centimeter of the governor's mansion, ladies and gentlemen, I tell you that we could get hate crime legislation passed on day one.”

April Brown — the Chairwoman of the Libertarian Party of Athens — made an appearance and endorsed Johnson as an individual, not as a representative of the party. Despite their different political affiliations, Brown previously worked with Johnson to eliminate cash-bail in Athens-Clarke County last summer.

“She doesn’t play politics,” Brown said. “She’s willing to work with anyone, no matter their affliction, no matter their background.”

District 2 Commissioner Mariah Parker urged the crowd to go out and canvas for Johnson’s campaign.

“We need people from every single corner of the city involved in the representation, legislation and the transformation of this community,” Parker said. “It comes to me as no surprise that Miss Mokah-Johnson has finally realized that this seat belongs to her, and this seat belongs to us.”

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