By JERI HUGHES
The Gertrude Stein Club election for officers on Dec. 3 was a farce. It became a farce when a group of new members — most whom have never attended a Stein Club meeting or participated in the local issues affecting the District — attended the election night process with the sole intention of usurping the Stein Club leadership.
Martin Garcia, Angela Peoples, and Vincent Villano — the individuals who won the election — state that they are active and involved in issues that are related to the LGBT community. That may very well be. The reality is I don’t know. My associates at the Stein Club don’t know. They are strangers. By their own admission, none had been Stein Club members for more than a week. None are representative of the population that has steadfastly and painstakingly participated in the process or progress that the Stein Club has endorsed and initiated within the District of Columbia.
Had they desired to enhance the Club’s efforts, or make the Club more effective, they would have been welcomed to participate. They would have been welcomed as friends and as members. I must assume that they were just too busy or preoccupied to be a part of that effort. They did not have time to work with the Club, or the members this year or in the years before. They did, however, have the time and energy to recruit 40 or so of their associates to pay dues and stack votes immediately prior to this election of Club officers. This might be a neat trick to win an election, but it does not inspire my faith in their integrity or in the process of Democracy. Quite the opposite.
To maintain electoral integrity, there is a 30-day mandatory Club membership prior to a vote on the endorsement of political candidates. This is to ensure that only real and actual Stein Club members participate in the electoral process. Unscrupulous candidates could potentially stack the vote with their supporters to gain advantage. Unfortunately, that same waiting period does not apply to the election of Club officers, which in hindsight, of course, is an extremely poor policy.
This vulnerability facilitated the election of Garcia, Peoples, and Villano. In future elections, it could potentially facilitate adversarial organizations like the National Organization for Marriage or the Family Research Council to stack new members and essentially destroy the Club’s mission. Admittedly, the maneuver was effective and legal. Some might even call it clever. I witnessed the ballot count. It was an accurate victory supported by a margin of two to five votes. No matter how clever or effective the strategy, it was not ethical. It does nothing to enhance the credibility or integrity of the Gertrude Stein Club, or the fair application of our officer elections. Personally, I believe that their strategy exhibits contempt for the actual participating Stein Club membership, and the Stein Club in general.
The election process on Dec. 3 is an irrevocable scar on the exemplary history of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club. Even though the newly elected officers may harbor the best of intentions and provide youth, enthusiasm and talent to the organization, their introduction to the Club outweighs any benefit that they might contribute. Ethics isn’t a mere word. It is a way of life.
It is a measure of how the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club has maintained credibility and support from our neighbors and our allies. We cannot afford to compromise that reputation.
Jeri Hughes is a local Democratic and transgender rights activist.