NIGERIAN born Mr Gabe Okoye is on the ballot in a forthcoming Democratic Party’s senatorial primary runoff election in the U.S.
Okoye, from Enugwu-Aguleri, in Anambra State, is seeking the party’s ticket for the November 3 general election into the Georgia State Senate to represent District 9.
He faces a black female challenger, Nikki Merritt, in the second round scheduled for August 11.
They both advanced to the runoff stage after defeating a third aspirant, Cheryle Moses, in the first round of the primary held on June 9.
The winner will face the incumbent, a Republican and third term senator, Peter Martin, who has been representing the district since 2015.
Okoye, a Planning Commissioner in Gwinnett County, the second-most populous local government in Georgia, is the first black man to serve as a commissioner in the county’s 202-year history.
He is a civil engineer and founder of Georgia-based construction firm, Essex Geoscience, is also serving on the Executive Committee Board of the Gwinnett and state chapters of the Democratic Party.
Okoye is seeking to capture the District 9 seat from the Republican Party, which has held it for over 30 years.
He is also aspiring to give the black community in Gwinnet County, a strong voice at the state level.
Okoye carved a niche for himself while serving as the Democratic Party chairman in the local government between 2016 and 2018.
As of the time he emerged the party chairman in 2016, the Democrats had only five of the 25 elected officials in the county.
The party turned the tide in the 2018 mid-term elections when they captured 13 elected offices, including the majority of Gwinnett seats in the Georgia State legislature, from the Republicans, who currently hold only seven positions.
The Democrats also reclaimed the office of the Solicitor General of the county after decades in the hands of the Republicans.
Okoye told the New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that “under my leadership of the party, we elected the first black commissioner, first black school board member, and also the first black Solicitor-General of the county in its 200-year history as of 2018.
“The Democratic Party also produced the first black state judge from this county under my watch,” he said.
In recognition of the achievements, the Georgia House of Representatives in 2019 designated November 6 of that year as Gabe Okoye Leadership Day.
Okoye moved to the U.S. in 1981, where he started life as a security guard, worked his way through college to become a licensed civil engineer, and later became an established Essex Geoscientist.
A former Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation – Americas (NIDOA), Okoye said that another of his objectives was to bring the Nigerian community into the mainstream of U.S. politics.
He represented Nigerians in the Diaspora at the 2014 National Conference in Abuja, decried the absence of Nigerians in the political and civic space in the U.S., in spite of their contributions to the country’s development.
“What we Nigerians do here is to attend our various ethnic meetings and then go home.
“Our people don’t mix with the main stream of this country, and I think it is wrong.”