Three progressive-leaning D.C. Councilmembers seeking re-election earned top scores on GLAA’s general election questionnaire, which surveys candidates about their stances on various issues prioritized by the LGBTQ political group.
Issued every two years, the questionnaire grades mayoral, Council, and attorney general candidates — in both the primary and the general elections — on the depth and thoroughness of their answers, in addition to holding GLAA’s preferred positions on various issues. Candidates are rated on a scale of -10 to +10, with points awarded for answers that align with GLAA’s positions, as well as their record on LGBTQ rights. Points may be docked for any anti-LGBTQ advocacy or actions deemed hostile to the community.
To assist candidates in completing the survey, GLAA mails candidates a brief outlining why it supports particular positions along with the questionnaire, and how those positions are beneficial to the LGBTQ community.
Among the issues emphasized in GLAA’s 2022 brief are: deeply affordable housing for people earning less than 30% of the Area Median Income, strengthening inclusionary zoning, expanded access to housing voucher programs, decriminalizing sex work, repealing the subminimum wage for tipped workers, funding the Office of Human Rights in a way that ensures it can resolve its case backlog, establishing overdose prevention facilities, utilizing oversight to reform the way D.C. jails operate — especially with regard to transgender inmates — and divesting from the Metropolitan Police Department to fund anti-poverty and anti-violence programs.
All candidates who returned questionnaires were graded on their responses. But a number of candidates seeking office received a “zero” rating, in most cases because they declined to answer the questionnaire.
Incumbent Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D) earned the highest rating of any candidate, with a +9.5. She was followed by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D), who is running unopposed, earned a +8.5 rating, followed by At-Large incumbent Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I) with a rating of +7.
In the Mayor’s race, Democratic incumbent Mayor Muriel Bowser earned a rating of +6, while independent candidate Rhonda Hamilton — who will not appear on the ballot, per the DC Board of Elections — earned a rating of +4. “Zero” scores were given to independent Rodney “Red” Grant, Republican Stacia Hall, or Libertarian Dennis Sobin, all of whom will appear on the ballot against Bowser. GLAA noted that Sobin submitted a brief letter outlining his plans for office, but earned a zero rating for failing to submit responses to the questionnaire.
In the Council Chairman race, incumbent Democrat Phil Mendelson earned a +6. Scores of zero were given to Republican Nate Derenge or Statehood Green Party candidate Rev. Darryl L.C. Moch.
In the At-Large race, trailing Silverman, were Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and Democratic At-Large incumbent Anita Bonds, who earned ratings of +6.5 and +6, respectively. Statehood Green Party nominee David Schwartzman earned a +6 rating, independent challenger Graham McLaughlin received a rating of +5, and independent candidate Karim Marshall received a +4 rating. Independent candidate Fred Hill and Republican Giuseppe Niosi received “zero” ratings.
In the Ward 1 race, Statehood Green Party candidate Chris Otten, who will appear on the ballot, did not earn any rating. In the Ward 3 race, Democratic nominee Matt Frumin earned a rating of +4, while opponents David Krucoff, a Republican, and Adrian Salsgiver, a Libertarian, received “zero” ratings.
In the Ward 5 race, Democrat Zachary Parker, the only out LGBTQ candidate appearing on the general election ballot, earned a rating of +6.5. Republican challenger Clarence Lee, Jr. received a zero rating. In the Attorney General’s race, Democrat Brian Schwalb, running unopposed, received a rating of +5.5.
While GLAA’s ratings do not constitute endorsements, they do illuminate where candidates stand on issues that activists are likely to bring before the Council in the coming years, and can be influential — especially, in more recent cycles, for voters who embrace more left-leaning public policy positions.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has appointed Salah Czapary, a gay former candidate for the D.C. Council, to a post within her administration following her re-election to a third four-year term.
Bowser's office made the announcement on Thursday, as one of several moves regarding Cabinet agencies and appointed positions.
Czapary, who garnered about a third of the vote in the Ward 1 Council race against Councilmember Brianne Nadeau in the Democratic primary, will serve as Acting Director of the Mayor's Office of Nightlife and Culture.
While the mayor did not officially endorse Czapary in that race, she has previously clashed with Nadeau and other members of the Council's left flank on various issues, and many of her employees and political allies, dubbed the "Green Team," either supported Czapary outright or donated to his campaign, as reported by the Washington City Paper.
Amid what appeared to be a generally positive night for LGBTQ candidates, voters in Washington, D.C.'s northeast quadrant elected Zachary Parker, a Democrat, to the open Ward 5 Council seat with over 93% of the vote.
Parker, who recently came out as gay just prior to winning the June primary, will become the first out LGBTQ member of the Council in eight years. In 2014, Councilmember David Catania (I-At-Large) jumped into the mayor's race, vacating his Council seat, which was filled by Elissa Silverman, while Councilmember Jim Grahm (D-Ward 1) went down in defeat to current Councilmember Brianne Nadeau in the primary.
"The 17th Street High Heel Race is a celebration of our LGBTQIA+ diversity," says Japer Bowles, the director of the Mayor's Office of LGBTQ Affairs. "It started as a wager among friends and drag queens in the Dupont historic neighborhood, and has since blossomed into a D.C. valued tradition."
The annual event, which features several dozen racers who sprint, stroll, and strut down 17th Street from the starting line on R Street NW to the finish line on Church Street NW, across from JR.'s Bar, attracts several thousand onlookers each year on the last Tuesday before Halloween.
As the event has grown in popularity in recent decades, the pre-race "Parade of Queens" has overtaken the actual race in importance. For several hours prior to the race, participants, dressed either in drag or Halloween costumes, and donning at least 2-inch-high heels, trickle into the cordoned-off blocks between R and P Streets and show off for spectators.
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