Georgia General Assembly gets first Vietnamese-American member


Bee Nguyen on Tuesday became the first Vietnamese-American to win a state House seat in Georgia as she took a closely contested runoff in DeKalb County.

Nguyen, a nonprofit founder, beat Sachin Varghese, an attorney, to become the new representative for House District 89, a seat vacated when Stacey Abrams, the former House Democratic leader, quit to run for governor.

The district includes Cedar Grove, Druid Hills, East Atlanta, Edgewood, Gresham Park and Kirkwood.

Nguyen received the most votes in last month’s special election, about 40 percent, despite raising less money than Varghese. Since neither received more than 50 percent of the total, they were forced into a runoff.

In what is a party flip of state Senate District 6, attorney Jen Jordan defeated pediatric dentist Jaha Howard in the race to replace Hunter Hill. The Republican from Atlanta also vacated his seat to run for governor.

While Jordan was the leading vote-getter Nov. 7, more than half of the voters cast ballots for one of the five Republican candidates in the race. Howard received the second-most votes of the eight candidates in his second bid for the seat in two years.

Political strategists say the district, which spans from Smyrna to parts of Sandy Springs, is nearly evenly split between Democratic and Republican voters.

In the Senate, Nikema Williams, who works for Planned Parenthood, was victorious over Linda Pritchett, a paralegal. Williams will replace former longtime state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, who vacated his seat to make a failed bid to become Atlanta’s mayor.

Williams and Pritchett, both Democrats, met in the runoff after they beat two other Democrats and a Republican candidate in the Nov. 7 special election for Senate District 39.

The long, socio-economically diverse district stretches from South Fulton to parts of Buckhead.

In southside House District 60, Kim Schofield won a race to represent an area that includes College Park, East Point, Forest Park and southwest Atlanta.

Schofield, an Emory University researcher, defeated De’Andre Pickett, an education administrator. Both candidates are Democrats. Schofield will replace Keisha Waites, who ran for the chairmanship of the Fulton County Commission.


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