Metro Weekly

Zachary Parker Poised To Be Next LGBTQ D.C. Councilmember

If elected, Ward 5 Democratic nominee would become D.C.'s first out LGBTQ Councilmember since 2014.

Zachary Parker – Photo: Facebook

On Tuesday, Democratic voters in Northeast Washington’s Ward 5 District chose Zachary Parker, an out gay man, to represent them on the D.C. Council. The win potentially positions him to become the Council’s sole LGBTQ member beginning in January 2023.

A former teacher and member of the State Board of Education, Parker won nearly 42% of the vote in a seven-way primary to fill the seat of Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who decided not to seek re-election in order to run for D.C. Attorney General.

Parker finished more than 18 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Faith Gibson Hubbard, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs, and also defeated former Ward 5 and At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, who finished third with 17% of the vote. 

As the Democratic nominee in a heavily Democratic city, Parker is the frontrunner in the upcoming November election, where he will face off against Republican Clarence Lee, Jr.

If elected, Parker will become the Council’s sole LGBTQ member, the first out Black LGBTQ person to serve on the Council, and the first LGBTQ person to serve on the council since 2014, when then-Ward 1 Councilmember, the late Jim Graham, was defeated in a primary and At-Large Councilmember David Catania vacated his seat to run for mayor.

Parker posted a statement to social media thanking his followers, saying he was “humbled” and “honored” to move “one step closer” to serving as the Ward 5 councilmember, and reached out to supporters of other candidates, asking for their support in the general election.

“It’s never been about me, this election is about us,” Parker said in the statement. “It’s about a vision of a community where we all have safe streets, affordable housing, quality schools, affordable and accessible health care, and nutritious food. I know it can be done and these are the issues I will fight for every day as your councilmember.”

The Victory Fund, which endorsed Parker’s run for office, issued a statement congratulating the Democratic nominee.

“We are so proud Zachary won his primary election last night and shattered this lavender ceiling,” Sean Meloy, vice president of political programs at the LGBTQ organization, said in a statement. “We are confident he will be an incredibly skilled and effective legislator for our community. His win is also a poignant rebuff to the wave of racism and anti-LGBTQ hate sweeping our country.”

In the Ward 1 race, openly gay candidate Salah Czapary fell short in his challenge to incumbent Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who won 47% of the vote to Czapary’s 32%, with ANC Commissioner Sabel Harris, who challenged Nadeau from the left, earning 20% of the vote.

While Czapary enjoyed support among some pockets of the LGBTQ community, other left-leaning LGBTQ activists took to Twitter to criticize Czapary for being a “closeted Republican,” or suggesting he was a political plant, citing the party affiliation of his former campaign chairman, William Pack, son of Michael Pack, a Trump appointee and former CEO of the right-wing Claremont Institute.

Liberals also criticized Czapary’s past career as a police officer for the Metropolitan Police Department, his call for increasing the number of MPD officers on the force, and his attacks on Nadeau over public safety issues, including the rise in violent crime, with the number of homicides in the District reaching an 18-year high.

Czapary was gracious in defeat, complimenting Nadeau for a well-run race.

I just got off the phone with @BrianneKNadeau congratulating her on her victory and letting her know that I look forward to supporting her through November and beyond,” Czapary tweeted. “Now is the time to unite Democrats to win races in DC and across the country this fall. My heartfelt thanks to the residents of Ward 1 who came out and voted today. I’ll never forget this experience, and I look forward to staying very involved in my Ward and our great City.”

In other races, incumbent Mayor Muriel Bowser, with just under 50% of the vote, romped to an 11-point victory over At-Large Councilmember Robert White, who earned 38%, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, who came in third with 10%, and James Butler, who won only 2 percent of the vote. 

In the race for Council Chair, incumbent Phil Mendelson beat out challenger Erin Palmer, who ran a much closer race than expected, by a margin of 10%. 

In the race for one of two At-Large Council seats, incumbent Anita Bonds turned back a field of three challengers, earning 39% of the vote, with challengers Lisa Gore and Nate Fleming earning 27% and 26% of the vote, respectively. 

In the Ward 3 race, Matthew Frumin, a former ANC commissioner running as a progressive, won a narrow 7% victory over Eric Goulet, a former Council staffer who had the support of the Democratic establishment, the pro-school privatization group Democrats for Education Reform, and the editorial board of The Washington Post.

Frumin had been endorsed by outgoing Attorney General Karl Racine — a political kingmaker among voters dissatisfied with the city’s conservative Democratic establishment, which they see as overly loyal to developers and corporate interests — and by three of his challengers, who dropped out of the race in order to avoid a Goulet victory.

In Ward 6, Charles Allen ran unopposed for the Democratic primary. In the race for D.C.’s congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton easily dispatched two challengers as she seeks re-election to a 17th term in office in the fall. In the race for shadow U.S. representative, challenger Linda Gray currently holds an 840-vote lead over incumbent Oye Owolewa. 

Republican primary voters selected Stacia Hall as their standard-bearer in the mayor’s race, Nate Derange in the race for Council Chairman, Giuseppe Niosi in the race for one of two At-Large Council seats, Nelson Rimensnyder for delegate to Congress,  and David Krucoff for the Ward 3 Council seat.

The Statehood Green and Libertarian parties had no official candidates appearing on the ballot, but may have their nominees decided by write-in votes. Republicans may also have additional nominees from write-in votes in races where there was not an official challenger listed on the ballot.

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