March 4, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay delegate candidate leads Barry, has highest vote count

An openly gay labor official emerged as a dark horse candidate and was beating D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) for a first place position in Saturday’s Democratic caucus to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Gregory Cendana, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, an arm of the AFL-CIO, captured 130 votes compared to 122 votes for Barry among male candidates running in District 1.

D.C. Democratic Party spokesperson Bill O’Field said ballots cast on Thursday to allow voters who couldn’t participate in the Saturday caucus on religious grounds and provisional ballots cast on Saturday by voters whose registration couldn’t be confirmed would not be counted until Monday or Tuesday, preventing the final results of the caucus from being known until then.

The local Democratic Party divided the city into two voting districts for purposes of electing 13 delegates and one alternate delegate among the city’s registered Democrats. Under party rules, four male and three female delegate positions were allocated to District 1 along with one female alternate delegate slot.

In District 2, three male delegate positions and four female delegate positions were created. Eighty-nine people competed for the delegate and alternate positions.

In the District 1 male contest, D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) was in third place, behind Barry, with 102 votes. Gay candidate Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, was in fourth place, with 97 votes.

Just behind Richardson in 5th place was David Meadows, a former president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic club and staff member for D.C. Council member Michael Brown (I-At-Large), who had 96 votes. With a least 130 votes remaining to be counted, the fourth delegate slot for District 1 could go to either Richardson or Meadows, according to sources familiar with the caucus.

In the District 1 female category, lesbian Democratic activist Lateefah Williams, the current Stein Club president, was in second place, with 101 votes, just three votes behind Sheila Bunn, who had 104 votes.

Most caucus observers expect Cendana, Williams and either Richardson or Meadows to emerge as winners after all of the caucus votes are tallied on Monday or Tuesday.

Although Cendana’s lead over Barry could change when the remaining ballots are counted, his strong showing and lead over both Barry and Evans has raised eyebrows among the city’s political establishment. Some local Democratic Party activists criticized Barry and Evans for running in the caucus, saying they should have allowed grassroots party activists to fill the delegate positions at the caucus.

The critics noted that more than a dozen additional delegates will be selected to represent D.C. at the Democratic Convention by the D.C. Democratic State Committee and by the Democratic National Committee in the coming months.

“Tonight’s results reflect the power of the grassroots,” Cendana said in a statement released on Saturday. “This kind of energy is what powered Barack Obama four years ago – we were inspired then, and we are inspired now as this small movement for big change continues.”

Although Cendana’s supporters say he was helped by votes from LGBT Democrats, they acknowledge that he benefited greatly by the city’s organized labor activists, who reportedly helped turn out the “labor” vote for him. But political insiders also credit Cendana with organizing a highly effective campaign for the delegate post.

Eight more LGBT candidates competing in the caucus for delegate positions finished further down in the vote totals and are not expected to emerge as winner when the final tally is completed.

Here are their names and vote totals:

District 1:

Alexander Padro—65 votes

Adam Bink—32 votes

Kevin Scott Carroll—9 votes

Jonathan Degner—5 votes

District 2:

Alexandra Beninda—74 votes

Sterling Washington—21 votes

Aadit Dubale—4 votes

Phillip Skillman—2 votes

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

2 Comments
  • Alexandra Andrea Beninda

    Congrats to Gregory Cedeno, Jeffrey Richardson, and Lateefah Williams. All in District 1 (Wards 1,2,6,8).
    There were no LGBT Winners in District 2 (Wards 3,4,5,and 7).
    I came in with 74 votes, far from the winning margins needed for Distri…ct 2 women, but enjoyed every minute of campaigning for Delegate and certainly plan to be at the Democratic National Convention working for the Re-Election of our President Barack Obama, educating Delegates and attendees aboput DC Statehood, and attending LGBT and Transgender Caucus activities. Thank You everyone who voted for me ;D.

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