Racing for the Council

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance reviews the candidates for DC City Council

When Mayor Anthony Williams decided not to pursue another term, there was trickle-down effect. With Council Chairman Linda Cropp and Councilmember Vincent Orange leaving behind the legislative branch for a shot at the executive brass ring, a host of D.C. politicos — both old-hands and new faces — have stepped in to attempt to fill the void. Regardless of the outcomes of next Tuesday’s Democratic primary, there will be a host of changes.

Two current councilmembers want Cropp’s job. Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) and Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) are making big runs for the seat, and have conducted aggressive outreach to the GLBT community. Patterson has earned a lot of attention for her good-government oversight on police issues in the city. Gray, on the other hand, nabbed the coveted Washington Post endorsement based on what the newspaper’s editorial board saw as an ability to find consensus.

GLAA Ratings and Web sites: Gray, 6 (www.grayforchair.com); Patterson, 10 (www.kathyforchairman.org).

In the race for the Democratic At-Large seat — under district law, one of the two seats up for election must go to a non-majority party — Phil Mendelson is running for re-election. He’s also one of two candidates, along with Patterson, to receive a perfect 10 from GLAA, in large part for his role in the passage of D.C.’s groundbreaking domestic partner legislation. His primary opponent, A. Scott Bolden received a rating of 5.5 — GLAA says it deducted points because the candidate ”boasted to a group of ministers and reporters that he opposed same-sex marriage, then told the Stein Club that he favored it.”

Web sites: Mendelson (www.reelectphil2006.com); Bolden (www.bolden2006.com).

The trickle-down effect is particularly apparent in the races to succeed both Patterson and Orange, as both their home wards are awash in candidates.

A number of candidates in Ward 3 have outreached early and often to the GLBT community, including Sam Brooks, Erik Gaull, Mary Cheh, Eric Goulet, and Paul Strauss. Each has received fairly high marks from GLAA, and have made clear that GLBT voters are more than welcome in their camps.

GLAA Ratings and Web sites: Brooks, 7 (www.brooks2006.com); Cheh, 7.5 (www.marycheh2006.com); Gaull, 7.5 (www.gaull2006.com); Goulet, 8.5 (www.goulet2006.com); Strauss, 7 (www.paulstrauss.org).

Other candidates in the Ward 3 Democratic primary include Bill Rice (GLAA rating: 6), Cathy Wiss (3) and Robert Gordon (2.5).

Ward 3 has also hosted an electoral sideshow with the campaign of Jonathan Rees. Early in the election cycle, Rees was attacking another candidate for taking donations from an ”anti-gay” donor. More recently, he’s been touting his support for a law to ban gay marriage. GLAA rated Rees -3.

In Ward 6, GLAA has rated the three Democratic candidates: Curtis Etherly (5.5), Tommy Wells (5.5) and Lee Pinson (3). The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club has endorsed Wells.

Web sites: Etherly (www.curtis2006.org); Wells (www.wellsforward6.com).

Of the four Ward 5 Democratic candidates who either returned the GLAA survey or had a ”known record” on gay and lesbian issues, none received a rating higher than Steve Rynecki‘s 2. Other candidates include the son of a former Ward 5 councilmember, Harry Thomas, Jr. (1.5); Rae Zapata (1.5); and Joe Harris (1).

Thomas has been endorsed by the Stein Club.

Web sites: Rynecki (http://rynecki.blogspot.com); Thomas (www.harrythomas5.com); Zapata (www.raezapataward5.com); Harris (www.joeharrisward5.com).

In Ward 1, Jim Graham, one of D.C.’s two gay councilmembers, has made a reputation for himself on attention to constituent services and pothole politics. While he may have found himself at the center of a racially and homophobically charged caricature controversy with the a prominent Fenty supporter — Grahamzilla, indeed — he appears to have little to worry about in his bid for re-election. His Democratic opponent, Chad Williams, gets a rating of 5.5 from GLAA, while Graham receives a 9. Graham also received the Stein Club endorsement.

Web sites: Graham (www.grahamwone.com); Williams (www.1forchad.com).

Candidate questionnaires and other materials involved with the GLAA ratings can be found on the group’s Web site, www.glaa.org.

Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.

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