July 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm EDT | by Clark Ray
Why I’m running for City Council

I have lived and worked in the District of Columbia for 20 years — first at The American University, in the Clinton-Gore administration, and as chief of staff to Tipper Gore in the Gore 2000 campaign. I have experience in D.C. government, most recently as director of Parks and Recreation. I am a candidate for Council at-Large because I believe our politicians need to stop bickering and start solving the city’s problems. We deserve better crime prevention, more transparent education reform, better job training and LGBT issues cannot be an afterthought.

As any family would, my partner Aubrey and I discussed the impact this decision would have on our personal life. We talked about the positive impact I thought my campaign could have on the city and its people. Together, we decided this was my opportunity to make a difference. With his support and with the encouragement of many other valuable voices in our city, I realized that the people deserve new ideas, a vibrant and transparent government and fresh leadership.

The fact is that my opponent and I both believe in full equality for all D.C. residents. And as part of a same-sex family, I thank him for supporting marriage equality. However, as a gay man I also know another “seat at the table” will make a real difference. I will represent the needs of all of D.C.’s residents, but I also understand first hand what it means to be a part of the LGBT community. And as part of an interracial couple, I know that my experiences and those of my partner Aubrey, an African-American, differ greatly. I’ve seen up close the racism and bigotry that too often is still a part of our community.

We must address the long ignored problem of school bullying and the resulting tragic teen suicides and we need to increase HIV/AIDS education with support from organizations like SMYAL and Metro TeenAIDS. Rebuild the D.C. police department’s Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit and attack the problem of hate crimes with the intensity such violence demands. My efforts will be grounded in knowledge I gained as a reserve police officer in D.C.’s police department, walking a beat and serving with the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit. When I speak out about hate crimes, walk in vigils, talk to survivors, it isn’t because an aide read in the newspaper about someone else’s struggle. It’s with an urgency that can only come from living as a gay man.

I am running not just as the gay candidate who will be an advocate for the LGBT community, but as a public servant in D.C. with a track record of effectiveness and independence. The effectiveness was evident in my endorsement from Rev. Willie Wilson who said that because of our friendship and working together he is now a strong supporter of full civil rights for the LGBT community. He has apologized for some of his past remarks and has invited me, an openly gay man, to speak from his pulpit. It is a platform I will use everywhere to change hearts and minds. It is an example of what it means to have “a seat at the table” and to use the public voice of a City Councilmember for the good of our community.

When I insist that we make our neighborhoods stronger, better places to live, it’s after two years as director of D.C.’s Department of Parks and Recreation. I brokered public-private partnerships, created the city’s first dog parks, expanded summer camps, built new parks and recreation centers and renovated old ones. That progress must continue.

When I demand true oversight of city contracts, I will do so as the only Council member to have managed a city agency. Unlike my opponent I have a hands-on understanding of city budgets, personnel and agency processes.

When I insist on workforce-development programs that give every resident a fair chance to learn new skills and hold a decent job, it’s based on experience working in neighborhood services for two different mayors. It’s with the understanding that uniting a city in which unemployment is at 3 percent in one ward and nearly 30 in another requires more than hollow words of assurances and “nitpicking” policy. We can and must do better.

When I demand Congress repeal the shameful “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, get out of D.C.’s budget and legislative process and secure statehood and voting rights, it’s with experience in the Clinton-Gore administration, under Secretary Mike Espy, working in the Office of Congressional Relations.

I am running because I know I can make government work for us. Together we can and will find the ways to make our lives better. I promise honest, independent leadership. I ask for your help, and for your vote.

Clark Ray is an at-large candidate for D.C. City Council. Reach him via clarkrayforcouncil.com.

  • Willie Wilson has a long record as an opportunist with a fondness for incendiary, racist remarks. There is no reason to trust him–especially when the suggestion is that he has changed his principles based on one personal relationship. I would like to know if Clark believes that LGBT civil rights include civil marriage equality. Wilson has vilified and mocked gay people with the crudest insults about gay sex, and has opposed marriage equality.

    Perhaps Clark has forgotten that we already have “a seat at the table”–actually, two seats. Phil Mendelson is our strongest ally on the D.C. Council. Without straight allies we would have no hope for winning equality. I cannot imagine why Clark’s being gay should trump Phil’s superb record as our champion. Plus, all this gay emphasis contrasts with the scorn expressed by Clark’s gay supporters who, when I cited Phil’s strong pro-gay record, were quick to dismiss this by saying that Clark is not a one-issue candidate–as if I had ever suggested that Phil was a one-issue candidate, or that I was a one-issue voter. Insulting people is an interesting campaign choice.

  • Willie Wilson is not running for City Council, Clark Ray is. And while you think Phil Mendelson is another “seat at the table”, Phil is not a gay man, Clark is and Clark’s perspective as a gay man is far more valuable in this election.

  • @China: rubbish. I did not say that Phil Mendelson is another “seat at the table.” I said he is our strongest ally on the Council. I did not say that Willie Wilson was a candidate in this election, as you well know. Such dishonesty from Ray supporters is sadly unsurprising. You also well know that Clark Ray is the one touting his endorsement by Wilson, which makes Wilson a legitimate issue–indeed, Clark is effectively endorsing Wilson, which is what is troubling. You have not begun to make the case that Clark’s being gay somehow trumps Phil’s long record of championing GLBT equality.

  • @Chin: BTW, if you really didn’t know the “two seats” at the table to which I was referring, they are openly gay Council members David Catania and Jim Graham.

  • Rubbish to you Mr. Rosendall and how dare you accuse me of being dishonest. Dishonesty from a Phil supporter, however, is predictable. While your tiny little mind can only focus on the Rev Wilson, the rest of us are looking at the bigger picture. Our strongest ally is one of our own. Period.

  • @China, if you know anything about my work as an activist, you know how absurd your characterization of me is. I did not just focus on Willie Wilson, nor has anyone been discussing Wilson except that Clark Ray brought him up. There’s another example of your dishonesty. Your stating as dogma that “our strongest ally is one of our own” (meaning a gay person) sets aside a great deal of evidence including the records of Councilmembers Mendelson and Evans, than whom our community could not have had a more reliable ally on the Council. There are facts here, and they are well known, say what you will.

  • Mr. Rosendall, I don’t know you or anything about your so-called activism, but what I do know is (1) that you HAVE brought Wilson up in every post here, and that (2) you appear to be a person that somehow needs the last laugh (posting). I stand by my words — our strongest alley is our own. Have a good weekend!

  • While China and Rosendall are hurling dishes at each other, I challenge all DC voters, straight and LBGT, to think about whom is best for our city and beyond just our own interests. Phil has been around a long long time. Are three and four terms more than enough? Under Phil’s watch, lots has gone wrong..budget issues, Office of Tax and Revenue debacles, juvenile crime etc etc. Do you want the same old thinking/actions or should we says “Thanks!” and move on to individuals who hopefully bring new ideas to the table?

  • Seriously? You don’t know about Rick Rosendall or any of his so-called activism?

    That can only mean that you have never been involved in any form of gay rights activism in DC in the past 20 years. You must never have read the Blade, or st least not the local news articles.

    Rick is one of the main, if not main gay rights activist in DC, for our history under home rule. Only Frank Kameny has done more to advance our rights.

    Rick is quite correct that while Carania and Graham are very good advocates for our community, Mendelson, Evans, and Kathy Patterson have all done much more.

    Being gay should not be seen as a qualification for office. Leading the marriage equality effort on the Council is a qualification for our great thanks and our votes. Mendelson has been our champion. Ray has never been involved in local political issues of importance to the LGBT community.

    • I have heard of the “Bob and Rick” show, and I think I’m watching it.

      Out with the old, in with the new! Let’s move this city forward with fresh blood, new ideas.

      Not 1 person, not even 2 or 3, led the marriage equality efforts in this City. It was an effort by hundreds and it continues on. Why on earth would you not think Clark Ray would not support moving legislation that is important to the LGBT community through the Council?

  • I have heard of the “Bob and Rick” show, and I think I’m watching it.

    Out with the old, in with the new! Let’s move this city forward with fresh blood, new ideas.

    Not 1 person, not even 2 or 3, led the marriage equality efforts in this City. It was an effort by hundreds and it continues on. Why on earth would you not think Clark Ray would not support moving legislation that is important to the LGBT community through the Council?

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