Recently, I got an email from a friend that said, “OK, I get it. You really dislike Adrian Fenty, but what’s so great about Vince Gray?”
It made me realize that I’d spent so much time pointing out the mayor’s shortcomings that I had failed to espouse all of the reasons that I support Chairman Vincent Gray for Mayor. And there are many.
Four years ago, I supported Adrian Fenty for mayor because he inspired me to believe that we could have a better city. Today, I support Vince Gray for the same reason. I am inspired by his sense of duty, honesty, empathy and determination.
I first met Vince when he was running for Council Chair four years ago. Since then, I’ve come to know him as a true leader. The first question I asked him as a candidate was, “If the Democrats win at least one house of Congress, will you support moving forward on a bill to provide marriage equality?” He didn’t hesitate to commit to moving forward on marriage.
At the time, I didn’t know that I would go on to co-found DC for Marriage and become intimately involved in the effort to win the freedom to marry here in the District. That first question I posed to Vince led to many more conversations about the proper strategy and timing to win marriage and avoid congressional intervention. My experience in working with Vince on marriage is that he was always friendly, responsive, attentive and honest. Along with David Catania, Jim Graham, and Phil Mendelson, Vince Gray was one of the strongest allies we had on Council for passing marriage.
Vince’s ethos is informed by a lifetime of work on behalf of others. His first job out of college was at a non-profit for the mentally disabled. From there, he headed the City’s Department of Human Services, starting the District’s first HIV/AIDS office, among other things. Next, he went on to head the Covenant House, an organization serving homeless youth. He served there until his election to the D.C. Council, representing Ward 7.
On the DC Council, he has been effective at building coalitions and passing legislation. While representing Ward 7, he worked to create what is now known as Effi Barry grants that provide resources to build the capacity of organizations working on HIV/AIDS issues. Those grants have provided an untold number of people the chance at a better life. As chairman, Vince shepherded legislation to reform our schools, create universal pre-kindergarten, and to unanimously censure former Mayor Marion Barry for ethical violations. Under his leadership, the D.C. Council has experienced an unprecedented period of productivity and civility.
The leadership and character that Vince has shown throughout his entire life is exactly what we need in the mayor’s office for the next four years. School reform efforts are stalling. To continue with the effort that he started, Vince will provide leadership from the mayor’s office to win broad buy-in from all stakeholders: teachers, students, parents, administrators and community partners. That is the key to successful school reform.
To create jobs, Vince has brought together a diverse group of business and economic advisers to brainstorm creative tactics. One approach that I find fascinating is to win approval from Congress that allows D.C. to have tax conditions comparable to offshore tax havens so that we can keep those deposits in the U.S. and create a new banking industry for the District.
On LGBT issues, Vince is one of our biggest allies. He has won the endorsement of the Stein Club and his rating by GLAA is more than twice as high as the mayor on the most important issues to our community. He will be a mayor that is responsive and visible in our community both in good times and bad.
My belief is that Vince will bring the same kind of civility that he brought to D.C. Council to the mayor’s office. Our city is divided in many ways and this campaign has shown that. Only one candidate will unite our city, bringing people together to work side by side to move our city forward. I am certain that candidate is Vince Gray and ask that you give him your vote.