By LATEEFAH WILLIAMS
Election Day is approaching on April 3. While there are many races that our community is focused on, one race that should be at the top of everyone’s list is the Ward 7 Council race. Many political observers believe that this will be the closest race in the D.C. Democratic primary. This race also serves as an opportunity for the LGBT community to show the D.C. political establishment that our community should not be taken for granted.
The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, D.C.’s largest LGBT political organization, endorsed Tom Brown for Ward 7 Council. As president of the Stein Club, I thought it was important to speak directly about our club’s endorsement and my personal support of Tom Brown. During our Ward 7 endorsement forum, Tom won over our membership with both his expressed commitment to equality and his experience with workforce development. Members also noted that, among the Ward 7 Council candidates, Tom received the highest rating from the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance.
At our endorsement forum, Tom also expressed the sentiment that one’s personal views should not prevent that person from supporting equal rights and said that he would have voted for marriage equality if he had been on the D.C. Council at the time. As you are aware, the incumbent, Yvette Alexander, voted against marriage equality. She also was the only Ward 7 candidate who did not participate in our endorsement forum. While Alexander has said that her vote does not reflect her personal views, LGBT residents in Ward 7 need a Council member who will speak up for their rights, even if there is some opposition. This is especially true in light of recent circumstances, in which several hate crimes against the transgender community have occurred in Ward 7.
Another reason why I support Tom Brown is his experience and commitment to workforce development. Ward 7 has been hit hard by the economic downturn and Tom’s experience directing a job readiness program, co-founding a Workforce Development Council and teaching entrepreneurship classes to high school students will serve the ward well. Ward 7 has many LGBT residents and many of those residents are in need of job training and employment opportunities. Tom’s experience in this area, as well as his expressed commitment to work with the LGBT community, will serve these residents and all Ward 7 residents well.
Tom has the experience, intellect and fortitude to move both Ward 7 and the District as a whole forward. The diverse coalition of organizations that have endorsed Tom speak to his ability to unite various constituencies. Other than the Stein Club, some other organizations that have endorsed Tom Brown are the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, D.C. for Democracy, the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner, Greater Greater Washington, and the Washington City Paper. Tom’s coalition of supporters is vast and is comprised of many organizations that do not agree with one another on many issues. This is a testament to Tom’s ability to work with all community stakeholders.
Ward 7 has gone too long without having a powerful voice to represent its constituency. I believe that Tom Brown is the person to fill this void. I hope that all Ward 7 residents will join me in supporting Tom Brown for Ward 7 Council on April 3.
Note: The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club has also endorsed Eleanor Holmes Norton for U.S. Congressional Delegate, Nate Bennett-Fleming for U.S. Shadow Representative, Jack Evans for Ward 2 Council and Muriel Bowser for Ward 4 Council.
Lateefah Williams is president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club.