The following was submitted as a letter to the editor. Go here to join the discussion.
Re: “Biddle beats out Vincent Orange for interim post” (news, Jan. 13)
To my fellow D.C. citizens and neighbors, both LBGT and supportive allies, our capital city has yet another opportunity to exercise one of the few electoral privileges we have: to elect a person to the City Council.
Our new City Council Chair Kwame Brown had to vacate his At-Large Council position when sworn into his new office. To fill the vacancy under the current terms of the Home Rule Act, the Democratic State Committee has exercised its right to appoint an interim member, while we await the April special election. If you believe the Washington Post, Sekou Biddle was named after much backroom arm-twisting and other shenanigans.
So now we have 17 other people who have been scouring the eight city wards for signatures. For the record, as I write this essay, I have not yet selected my personal choice. Although our LBGT issues are important, I hope those who will vote will look beyond our concerns and consider the many challenges we face citywide.
However, as an aside, as a member of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund’s Campaign Board, I am disappointed that we do not have a qualified member of our community running. Having three of our people on the City Council would have been just great. That said, let’s look at some of the issues the candidates should be ready to address if he/she wants our support.
If any asked me the primary issues our city faces, I would say in no particular order: continuing education reform, ongoing safety issues, congressional interference in local issues due in part to lack of voting rights/statehood, city budgets (revenue versus expenses), employment and health issues.
Are all the candidates pro-LBGT? How many testified on the record before the City Council in favor of equality marriage? Who can go beyond being merely for or against Michelle Rhee to continue education reforms? How many have bothered to lobby Congress on home rule issues beyond attending rallies and actually met with members of Congress? Who has a grasp of the HIV epidemic and can offer creative, cost effective programs to eventually stop it?
Who has developed an economic plan to bring unemployment rates down and increase tax revenues? Who is willing to freeze hiring and salaries of non-safety employees for a two- to three-year period the same way that has been proposed for federal employees? Who is willing to insist that future Council members be full-time employees? Who has ideas to improve ANC operations? Who favors expanding elected positions in D.C.? Who can be relied upon to be a true independent, intelligent voice and not be another rubber stamp creature with a microphone?
Try to attend candidate forums. Don’t be shy to ask questions and if not satisfied with answers, let them know! Read the blogs and individual websites, call candidates at their campaign office or even at their homes if you want to know something. Let each one pass/fail your own employment interview. Finally, regardless of how many polling stations will be open (that is an entirely different matter), be sure to vote. —John Klenert, Washington