Metro Weekly

GLAA upgrades candidate ratings on its election questionnaire

Candidates claim they never received questionnaire, or returned it, but were never credited with a rating

(Clockwise from upper left) Alex Padro, Peter Bolton, Franklin Garcia, Chander Jayaraman, and Martin Miguel Fernandez – Photos: Facebook; Bolton campaign; Fernandez campaign.

GLAA, the LGBTQ political advocacy organization that pushes for pro-equality policies in D.C. government, upgraded five candidates who had previously received ratings of zero on GLAA’s election questionnaire.

“GLAA endeavors to have a fair ratings process each election cycle,” Bobbi Elaine Strang, the president of GLAA, said in an email. “As an all-volunteer organization we do our best to be timely in releasing our policy brief and questionnaire, which has been on our website since this spring. We sent out emails with a link to these documents after the Board of Elections released the candidate list to all candidates for whom we did not already possess a completed 2020 questionnaire based on the email addresses published by the B.O.E.”

But according to four of the five candidates, they did not receive the link to the questionnaire, or to GLAA’s policy brief, which serves as a “cheat sheet” for candidates in terms of GLAA’s legislative priorities.

“We are not sure why some candidates believe they were not sent the link,” Strang said. “We accepted their word and issued an extension and ratings for those candidates.”

A fifth candidate, Statehood-Green Party nominee Peter Bolton, who is running in the Ward 2 Council race, claimed to have sent responses to GLAA’s questionnaire on Aug. 24.

But according to Strang, GLAA was unable to find that questionnaire in its email. After Bolton provided an email receipt of the initial email, GLAA decided to upgrade his rating as well.

Independent Franklin Garcia, running for one of two At-Large seats on the Council, received a +8 rating (on a scale of -10 to +10) for agreeing to GLAA’s legislative priorities and for providing “detailed, substantive responses” to the questionnaire, according to a press release from GLAA.

Garcia also received record points for helping bring attention to the case of Bella Evangelista, a transgender woman who was killed, whose killer tried to use the “trans panic” defense to justify his actions.

Independent At-Large candidate Alexander Padro earned a +7 for his record as an ANC commissioner, and for his general agreement with most of GLAA’s priorities, although he argues in his questionnaire that he prefers full legalization of sex work, rather than decriminalization, which he thinks does not provide enough protections for sex workers.

Independent At-Large candidate Chander Jayaraman earned a +5 rating for agreeing with GLAA on most issues, but was vague on some substance and disagrees with GLAA’s work to decriminalize sex work.

See also: Robert White, Christina Henderson, Randy Downs and Monica Palacio top GLAA candidate ratings in D.C.

Ward 2 independent candidate Martín Miguel Fernández earned a +7 for his general agreement with GLAA on its chief priorities. He lost points for having a limited record on LGBTQ issues, but GLAA said in its rating write-up that “his background as a medical anthropologist leads GLAA to conclude that he has a solid grasp of our policy positions and the reasoning behind the positions.”

Bolton, the Statehood-Green candidate in Ward 2, agreed with GLAA on all issues and received a +4 for his questionnaire responses.

“Peter Bolton agrees with GLAA on all issues, but provided limited substance and occasionally strayed off topic in his responses. Candidate provided no details of his record on LGBTQ issues and GLAA could not confirm any record on LGBTQ issues,” GLAA said in its release.

The Bolton campaign responded to the rating in a press release, arguing that while a +4 was better than a zero rating, the campaign believes Bolton should have received a higher rating.

“I’m proud of my history of advocating for LGBTQ rights,” Bolton said in a statement. “One of the first things I got involved in when I moved to DC in 2010 was volunteering for the Capital Pride event in Ward 2. I worked under the supervision of event organizer Dane Austin.

“As a journalist and political analyst, I’ve consistently called out and criticized the hypocrisy of
politicians and policies in the U.S., the U.K., and around the world on LGBTQ rights. For example: In an October 2018 article about the religious right in the U.S., I argued: ‘Opposition to LGBT rights, meanwhile, is presented as a defence of “traditional marriage”; but it is actually about maintaining heterosexual, and especially male heterosexual, privilege in the economy, the workplace, the tax system, and wider society,'” he continued, providing evidence of other criticisms he made of anti-LGBTQ policies around the world.

“In addition to my published works, I’ve advocated for the community in other ways, such as donating to the Human Rights Campaign, and in my association with the Green Party, which has led on rights for LGBTQ persons and their families for two decades.”

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