Local educator and civil rights activist Mokah Jasmine Johnson will formally kick off her campaign for the Georgia House of Representatives later this month.
Johnson has been exploring a run against Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) since August. She will make it official at a City Hall rally Jan. 18.
“Over the past few months, I have listened to the people of our district and worked to understand the issues that are most important to working families,” Johnson said in a news release. “I believe it’s time we bring bold progress and fearless leadership to the State House from District 117.”
Among the speakers at Johnson's kickoff rally will be Deborah Gonzalez, a Democrat who won the seat in a 2017 special election but lost it to Gaines in a rematch the following year. Gonzalez is running for district attorney this year. Flipping the swing seat again will be crucial for Democrats to take control of the House.
Other scheduled speakers include Athens-Clarke County commissioners Tim Denson and Mariah Parker, Athens PRIDE vice president Cameron Harrelson and Jeff Binkley of Maura's Voice, an anti-gun violence group.
Johnson said she will speak about her support for hate crimes legislation. Gaines voted against a hate crimes bill in 2019.
In 2015, Johnson co-founded the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement to combat discrimination at downtown bars. The group has since expanded its mission to include voting rights, community policing and criminal justice reform.