Gay Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham and gay ally Phil Mendelson, the straight At-Large Democratic Councilmember, got perfect scores from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) this week while mayoral hopeful Leo Alexander, a Democrat who didn’t return the group’s questionnaire, got the lowest ranking of -3.
The group, a volunteer, non-partisan, non-profit founded in 1971, ranks candidates from a range of -10 to +10. Members met Tuesday in the National Press Club building for a three hour-plus discussion meeting in which the 17 candidates who returned questionnaires were evaluated along with several who did not. The group says its rankings are not endorsements.
Council Chair and mayoral hopeful Vincent Gray, who’s straight, outranked incumbent Adrian Fenty, also straight, in the group’s rankings. Gray earned +8.5 while Fenty trailed with +4.
In its written explanations (see the full text here), the group said Gray’s score “reflects his agreement with GLAA on all issues and his efforts in leading the Council in support of equal marriage rights, setting a tone and leading hesitant councilmembers by his example.”
The group said it disagrees with Fenty on a number of issues, such as a domestic partnership parenting act, appointments for chief of police and director of the Office of Human Rights and protections for transgender residents. Members did, however, praise Fenty for leading “the exceptional legal fight to keep and defend our marriage rights.”
“For nearly every positive step, we found a negative,” wrote Rick Rosendall and Bob Summersgill, GLAA members who crafted the evaluation prose.
They noted Gray and Fenty both deserve some credit for naming the 1600 block of 17th Street N.W. “Frank Kameny Way.” Kameny, one of GLAA’s founders, was at Tuesday’s ranking discussion meeting.
Alexander’s -3 ranking came for his “explicitly anti-gay and anti-marriage-equality campaign,” members said.
Council chair hopefuls Kwame Brown, Vincent Orange and Dorothy Douglas, all straight, earned positive scores. Brown’s +5.5 came from his agreement with GLAA on nearly every issue though members said he offered limited substance on his questionnaire.
Orange got +4.5 and was cited as “most improved candidate.” The group said it had a thorny relationship with Orange during his previous eight years on Council when he regularly ignored the group’s questionnaire. Douglas, who sits on the board of education, got a +2 but “showed a poor grasp of substance in her questionnaire responses.”
In the At-Large Council race, Mendelson outranked his closest opponents by four points. His perfect score came, members said, because he “is our greatest champion on the Council.” He was praised for writing the marriage recognition bill and other accomplishments the group praised.
Green candidate David Schwartzman got a +6. Clark Ray, who’s gay, got a +5.5. Members said his alliance with Rev. Willie Wilson, a local anti-gay minister, troubles the group.
“Ray agrees with GLAA on most issues but his questionnaire does not demonstrate a solid understanding of the duties and function of the Council,” members said.
All the Ward 1 Council hopefuls earned positive rankings with Graham by far in the lead with a perfect score. Democrat Bryan Weaver and Republican Marc Morgan got +5.5 and +3 respectively.
For the Ward 3 seat, incumbent Mary Cheh got a +7.5 and “has been a strong advocate for LGBT rights,” the group said.
Ward 5 incumbent Harry Thomas got a +6. He was praised for supporting same-sex marriage in D.C. but criticized for opposing a bill that would have helped gay clubs displaced by the Nationals stadium to relocate.
His opponents’ scores ranged from -2 to +2 for having little known record on LGBT issues. Democrat Hunter Delano for his association with the anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage (NOM).
Ward 6 incumbent Tommy Wells earned a solid +8.5 and was praised as a “consistent leader on our issues.” Democrat Kelvin Robinson also received a negative score for his association with NOM.
GLAA members Craig Howell, Ron Swanda, Geri Hughes, Cartwright Moore, Barrett Brick and Miguel Tuason joined Rosendall, Summersgill and Kameny at Tuesday’s ranking meeting.