Sam Park says he embodies his District.
Park, 34, is seeking a third term in Georgia’s general assembly. He represents District 101.
“I am actually quite representative of my district as an openly gay Asian American millennial,” Park said. “My district is majority-minority. It is very diverse and the median age is 36.”
District 101 is a 30-minute drive northeast from downtown Atlanta into Gwinnett County. Park was first elected in 2016, flipping what was a red district.
“I ran against a three-term, very well respected Republican chairwoman, most folks on both sides of the aisle thought I had no shot,” Park recalled.
Park said he won by sharing his family’s struggles with the healthcare system and encouraging people to join the political process.
“I reached out to a lot of first-time voters,” he said. “Low-propensity Democrats who have never really been contacted by a campaign and built a diverse coalition running on the importance of all Georgians having access to health care. I along with a team of first time political newcomers knocked on thousands of doors in the district and really made history.”
Park’s ability to flip the script is part of what got him recognized by the Democratic National Committee. When it came time to put together this year’s convention keynote address, Park was one of 17 public servants featured in the video.
“We have lived that feeling of helplessness,” Park said. “When someone you love is very sick and access to healthcare is a matter of life and death.”
In 2014, Park’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He credits access to health care for giving him and his mother a longer and proper goodbye.
“Taking my mom to her chemo appointments two times a month was a constant reminder that access to healthcare is a matter of life or death,” Park said.
When Republicans in Georgia voted against an expansion of the Medicaid program, Park decided it was time to take matters into his own hands.
“That became the reason why I ran for office,” Park said. “Inspired by my mother’s battle. I decided to run and stand and fight to make sure all other Georgians would have an opportunity to have that same fighting chance.”
Park said Joe Biden can win Georgia and its 16 electoral college votes, citing a gap of 100 million Americans that did not vote in the last presidential election.
“Make a plan to vote right now,” Park said.
Atlanta resident Brad Bonds plans to do just that.
“My main concern right now is electing progressive candidates who will continue to defend and provide resources for gay and transgender youth as well as ensuring we don’t have any future RFRAs,” said Bonds, a gay man.
The RFRA, or Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1993. The federal law, which deals with religious freedom, has been used by companies such as Hobby Lobby to justify anti-LGBT beliefs.
As Georgia’s first openly gay state representative, Park realizes the importance of having a seat at the table and a “voice in the room on issues like non-discrimination ordinances.”
Although not in his district, Bonds, who works in healthcare talent acquisition, said he has spoken to Park.
“He always seemed focused but personable,” Bonds said. “You can tell he understands what’s important to the community. I could easily see him running for national office.”
First, there’s the matter of opening schools during the coronavirus pandemic. Ensuring safety and adding LGBT content to the classroom.
“My understanding is that Georgia does not have an LGBTQ curriculum for students,” Park said. “We’re still working to ensure that the sex education that’s taught is scientifically accurate.”
Park holds a law degree from Georgia State University. His family emigrated from South Korea and when Park won his assembly seat he received a congratulatory letter from the South Korean government. A bachelor, Park recently adopted a cat he named Mira. “She meows a lot,” he laughed, “and is a little stinky too.”
More Info on Sam Park can be found here.