Metro Weekly

Todd routs competition in bid for Stein endorsement

Bowser protegee wins backing of LGBT Democratic group ahead of special election

Ward 4 candidate Brandon Todd with Mayor Muriel Bowser
Ward 4 candidate Brandon Todd with Mayor Muriel Bowser

Monday night’s Gertrude Stein Democratic Club endorsement forum wasn’t a competition. It was a coronation.

Brandon Todd, a Democrat who previously served as Mayor Muriel Bowser’s (D) constituent services director for her Ward 4 office and as finance director for her mayoral campaign, won the LGBT Democratic club’s endorsement for the April 28 special election to replace Bowser on the D.C. Council. Todd trounced his fellow competitors, five of whom were allowed to participate in the forum. Five others declined to return Stein’s questionnaire or attend the forum, and another, Dwayne Toliver, arrived late but was not allowed to participate, even though the club had not yet nominated any of the candidates, as it was supposed to, in accordance with its bylaws. This was later resolved after the forum when Christopher Dyer nominated all six en masse, which the club members approved by voice vote.

Additionally, Todd and three others did not follow instructions regarding the return of Stein questionnaires, which moderators resolved by giving Edwin Powell and Acqunetta Anderson, the two who had been in compliance, an additional minute in their introductory statements.

The forum covered several issues raised at prior endorsement forums, most recently at Stein’s forum for the Ward 8 special election endorsement. Candidates talked about economic development, their outreach to and familiarity with the needs of the city’s transgender community, bullying of LGBT students in schools, and the need for affordable housing.

While nearly all of the candidates made good points during the course of the forum, it was clear from the start that the room was ridiculously slanted in favor of Todd, as nearly three-quarters of the room had donned the trademark green campaign stickers that Todd’s field team has been distributing at similar events. The audience was filled with a veritable “who’s who” of government officials, including at least six prominent LGBT employees of the Bowser administration, all in an unofficial capacity, and Bowser’s own brother, Marvin, who is openly gay.

The overwhelming sentiment in favor of Todd was so obvious that Powell, a member of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, and one of two candidates, the other being Toliver, who outscored Todd on the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) questionnaire, even acknowledged the “green elephant in the room,” even as he pleaded with Stein members to pick the person best qualified for the job.

In the end, Todd was victorious in a landslide, earning 31 of 37 votes, or 83.8 percent, well above the 60 percent threshold required to obtain an official endorsement from Stein. Renee Bowser, a labor lawyer and former opponent of Muriel Bowser during her first two campaigns for the Ward 4 seat, earned 3 votes, or 8.1 percent, with Powell and Leon Andrews each earning one vote. The remaining ballot was considered “spoiled” and was not added to any candidate’s tally.

Following his victory, Todd said he was excited and enthusiastic about winning the endorsement, playing up his campaign theme of being able to work collaboratively with not only his fellow councilmembers, but the mayor, to whom he has close ties. Still, he also vowed that he would be an independent voice for Ward 4.

“I’ve had an opportunity to work for Mayor Bowser for seven-and-a-half years, but I’m always going to go down to city hall and make the best decision for the most people possible,” Todd said. “The first people I will be responsible to will be the residents of Ward 4. They’re sending me down to city hall to work on a very ambitious agenda: education, economic growth, senior citizens, good constituent services, and, certainly, equality across our ward and across the District.”

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