Several DC LGBTQ activists said this week they believed it was too early for the city’s LGBTQ community to make a decision on who to support the mayor in the 2022 municipal election, especially since all three candidates Well-known Democrats for mayor are longtime LGBTQ allies.
Most, but not all, local activists contacted by the Washington Blade as part of an informal inquiry who called for not deciding who to support the mayor expressed these views a week after Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that she had filed documents to run for a third term. in the city of June 21, 2022, Democratic primary.
The mayor’s announcement came about a month after DC council member Robert White (D-At-Large) and council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) announced they would run for mayor in the Democratic primary.
With the overwhelming majority of DC voters registered as Democrats, the winner of the Democratic mayoral primary has consistently won the November general election since the city’s elected government took effect in the 1970s.
Robert White, like Bowser, has filed documents to run under the city’s fair election program which offers public funding to candidates who must accept campaign contributions not exceeding $ 100 from individual donors during a city-wide election.
Trayon White had yet to formally file any documents for his mayoral bid earlier this week, but his supporters have said he, too, is due to run under the public funding program for fair elections.
“I think it’s far too early,” said gay Democratic activist Earl Fowlkes, when asked if he currently supports any of the mayoral candidates.
Fowlkes was elected vice president of legislative affairs for Capital Stonewall Democrats, DC’s largest local LGBTQ political group, last week. He is also executive director of the Washington-based national LGBTQ group Center for Black Equity.
“People are going to have to listen to the candidates and look at their files and make a decision accordingly,” Fowlkes said. “I think the mayor has a good record and Robert White is definitely a friend of our community,” he said. “And Trayon White has also made great strides in understanding our issues.”
Like other local activists, Fowlkes said DC’s long-standing status as an LGBTQ-friendly local municipal government with sweeping LGBTQ rights legislation in place means LGBTQ voters will look to other issues on which to base their support for a mayoral candidate.
“It’s not anymore that you can just silo LGBTQ issues,” Fowlkes said. “We need to care about homelessness for all citizens, not just gay citizens, but everyone. Access to health care – this is important for everyone whether you are LGBTQ or not, ”he said. “And I think our rights as LGBTQ Washingtonians are pretty much enshrined in law. And I don’t think that’s a problem.
Similar to previous election cycles, Fowlkes said Democrats in Capital Stonewall will host a series of candidate forums in the spring of 2022, including a mayoral candidate forum, in which candidates will be invited to discuss issues of concern to the LGBTQ community. . The forums are part of the organization’s process to approve candidates for mayor, DC board and other elected positions, which the LGBTQ Democratic group will establish ahead of the June 21 Democratic primary.
Lesbian activist Barbara Helmick, who is the director of programs for the DC state advocacy group called DC Vote, said she recognized that it was too early for DC residents to decide on a candidate for the town hall. But Helmick said DC state should be at the top of the list of concerns for the LGBTQ community during the mayoral election.
“As a vulnerable community, we will be particularly vulnerable to the conservative movements that have a lot of power in this country right now,” Helmick said. “And our best protection against that is to have self-government, to be able to elect representatives who will speak for us in Congress,” she said. “We need senators. We need a voting member of the House for anything the Conservatives could come up with. “
Helmick was referring to past instances where Congress has used its authority to overturn or block DC laws, which she said could happen again if conservative Republicans regain control of Congress in the 2022 midterm election. She said the city’s LGBTQ rights protections could be threatened by a hostile Congress.
While noting that Bowser and Robert and Trayon White have argued for a state in Washington, Helmick said mere expression of support was not enough. “What is each one going to do?” ” she said.
June Crenshaw, executive director of the Wanda Alston Foundation, the DC group that provides housing services to homeless LGBTQ youth, said that while her organization does not endorse candidates for public office, it will closely monitor applicants. candidate positions on issues that impact LGBTQ youth. .
“We will be involved in the process because our next mayor or our current mayor really needs to make sure they take care of queer and LGBTQ people in their budget process and in their programming process,” Crenshaw said.
Ron Moten, one of the founders and senior advisor of Check It Enterprises, an Anacostia-based LGBTQ community service center and small business, said the organization had not endorsed candidates in the past, but that she would consider the possibility of doing so. However, he said choosing between the top three Democratic candidates for mayor would be difficult.
“Everyone supported Check It,” he said. “Robert White introduced legislation to help us get our building,” Moten said. “The mayor helped us get grants to do the things we do. And Trayon White has always stood behind everything we’ve done.
Gay Democratic activist John Klenert, who is among those calling to wait a few months before deciding which mayoral candidate to support, said LGBTQ voters as well as all voters would benefit from taking the time to think about the candidates .
“Let’s take a breath and watch,” said Klenert, who agrees that the top three Democratic mayoral candidates have good records on LGBTQ issues. “Come on,” he said. “The past is one thing. What do they promise for the future, not only for our community but for the city in general? “
The Blade could only find two prominent DC LGBTQ activists who have come out in favor of a DC mayoral candidate at this time.
Rick Rosendall, former president of the DC Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, announced on Facebook that he supports Robert White.
“Robert White is thoughtful, decent, progressive and experienced, and has shown a willingness to tackle controversial issues, such as when he co-sponsored the decriminalization of sex work favored by at-risk members of our community and those in our community. ‘between us who support them,’ Rosendall told Blade in a statement. Rosendall noted that Robert White received a candidate rating of +10 GLAA, the highest possible rating, when he stood for re-election to his Council seat in 2020.
Gay Democratic activist John Fanning, elected member of the Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said he supported Mayor Bowser’s re-election campaign on the grounds that she had “served the city exceptionally well” in his first two years. mandates.
“I think the response of the mayor and his administration to the pandemic has been exceptional, because if the mayor and his administration had not done what they did when they needed to, there would have been more deaths “Fanning told The Blade.
“And I also think carving a space for racial justice and social justice with Black Lives Matter Plaza,” is also one of the mayor’s significant accomplishments, said Fanning. “And she took on Donald Trump when we needed someone to stand up for the people of the District of Columbia,” he said.
Citing other actions by the mayor that Fanning says have benefited the city, including an affordable housing program, Fanning added, “I’m not sure we need to make a change now.”
Mark Lee, coordinator of the DC Nightlife Council, a non-profit trade association that advocates for restaurants, bars and nightclubs, said the group does not officially support political candidates. But Lee said individual DCNC members, including representatives from LGBT bars and other LGBT venues, are “largely in favor” of the re-election of Mayor Bowser and DC Chairman Phil Mendelson (D -At-Large).
“Mayor Bowser and Phil Mendelson both appreciate the massive economic contribution that nightlife makes to the district’s economy and understand the challenges local establishments face as we emerge from the pandemic period,” said Lee. “Bowser and Mendelson continue to support our hometown’s largest independent small business sector and nightlife operators look forward to returning that support,” he said.
DC Office of Campaign Finance files show that two lesser-known candidates also filed to run for the DC Democratic primary for mayor in June – James Butler, former Ward 5 ANC commissioner and candidate for the 2018 town hall not elected; and community activist Michael Campbell.
Three other lesser-known candidates have submitted papers to run for mayor as non-Democrats: community activist Rodney “Red” Grant is running as an independent; community activist Barbara Summers is also running as an independent; and Corren Brown is running as a candidate for the Statehood Green Party.
Their positions on LGBTQ issues could not be determined immediately.