ATLANTA (AP) — Letitia “Tish” Naghise, a first-term member of the Georgia House, has died.
Kaleb McMichen, a spokesperson for House Speaker Jon Burns, said Naghise died Wednesday. Naghise died at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, where she had been hospitalized for several days, said Wan Smith, a friend and former coworker. No cause of death was given.
“She was an extraordinary servant leader, an extraordinary and multifaceted leader, who didn’t start or stop with the legislature,” said Smith, who supervised Naghise when Naghise worked for the Georgia Conservation Voters Education Fund, an environmental advocacy group.
The 59-year-old Fayetteville resident won a Democratic primary in House District 68, which includes Atlanta suburbs in southern Fulton and northern Fayette counties, before easily beating a Republican in November.
Naghise said on her website that she got involved in Democratic politics when Barack Obama ran for election in the 2008 presidential race.
She was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2020 and former state committee member. She volunteered for U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff’s initial unsuccessful U.S. House run in 2017. The Democrat described Naghise as “a kind, caring, hardworking, and committed community leader and public servant” in a statement Wednesday.
Naghise worked for the Democratic Party of Georgia, Census advocacy group Fair Count and Georgia Conservation Voters before making a successful first run for office in 2022.
Smith said Naghise was a champion networker and a fountain of energy who worked for Georgia Conservation Voters full-time while running for office.
“She was a regular person, but she knew everybody,” Smith said. “No matter what part of the the state we were organizing in, she knew somebody there or knew somebody who could put her in contact with someone there.”
Naghise said on her website that she had worked as a paralegal and fraud examiner. She also owned part of a trucking company, T & C Transportation Enterprises, according to state ethics disclosures. Naghise was of Nigerian descent.
“Rep. Naghise was my dear friend and a treasured member of the Democratic Caucus,” House Minority Leader James Beverly, a Macon Democrat, said in a statement. “She made an impact from day one at the Capitol, showing up with enthusiasm and grace. She was deeply passionate about fighting for the greater good, which led her to a lifetime of public service and organizing.”
Naghise is survived by her husband Charles and a son, Smith said, while another son died in 2021.
Gov. Brian Kemp will call a special election to replace Naghise.
A second House seat in Clayton County is also vacant after Democratic Rep. Mike Glanton of Jonesboro stepped down for health reasons.
Voters in House District 75 will go to the polls on March 21 to select a replacement for Glanton. If no one wins a majority, an April runoff would follow.
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