D.C. Council candidate Matthew Frumin, a Democrat, local attorney and Ward 3 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, received a +7 rating from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance Tuesday night, coming in ahead of his six competitors in the GLAA ratings.
Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), who was appointed interim Council member until the special election is held on April 23, came in second with a +6.5 rating. Bonds is chair of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, which elected her to the interim Council post.
Former Council member Michael Brown, who’s running as a Democrat, came in third with a +6 rating.
“They were the highest-rated candidates in this race, but Perry Redd, Elissa Silverman, and Patrick Mara had scores that followed closely behind,” GLAA said in a statement referring to four of the other five candidates.
GLAA is a non-partisan LGBT advocacy group that’s been rating candidates on LGBT issues since the 1970s. It rates candidates on a scale of -10, the worst possible rating, to +10, the highest possible score. The group bases its ratings on candidates’ responses to a detailed questionnaire covering a wide range of mostly LGBT issues and their record on LGBT-related matters.
Redd, a Statehood Green Party candidate and advocate for ex-offenders, received a +5.5; Silverman, a Democrat, former Washington Post and City Paper reporter and budget analyst for the Fiscal Policy Institute, also received a +5.5. Mara, a Republican who serves as the Ward 1 member of the D.C. school board, received a +5. Attorney and Democratic contender Paul Zuckerberg, who has led efforts to legalize marijuana, came in last in the GLAA ratings with a +2.
“No candidate received a negative rating,” GLAA said in its statement accompanying the ratings, a development the group has said shows that most candidates running for public office in the city have been supportive on LGBT issues.
All seven candidates, including Zuckerberg, stated in their questionnaire responses that they support LGBT equality across the board, including the city’s same-sex marriage law. Each said they also support LGBT-backed legislation pending before the Council.
GLAA said in its statement that Zuckerberg and Mara lost points for not providing substantive answers to the questions, even though the two agreed with GLAA on most of the issues. Under the group’s rating system, a “yes” answer agreeing with a GLAA position earns a candidate just two points out of a possible 10 points. Candidates can gain or lose an additional four points based on the substance of their answers, which shows their level of understanding of the issues, according to GLAA.
Mara, who’s considered one of two frontrunners in the race, along with Brown, lost points – as he has in the past – by not supporting GLAA’s position that private religious operated schools should not receive city or federally funded vouchers. GLAA says it holds this position because private religious schools are exempt from the city’s Human Rights Act and are free to discriminate against students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The group says government funds shouldn’t be going to such schools.
Mara also lost points for his response to a question that asks whether the candidates favor legislation to eliminate legal standing for small ad hoc groups of citizens as well as civic associations to file a protest, or legal challenge, to liquor license applications. The question asked whether legal standing on those matters should be left to Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, whose members are elected.
“I do not support limiting peaceful protests or the right of citizen associations to engage in the political process,” Mara said in his response. “However, giving legal standing to one group and not another is a dangerous precedent,” he said.
Mara’s response appears to go against the positions of local business groups and nightlife advocates, who have complained that unelected civic and ad-hoc groups of as few as five people have blocked approval of licenses for restaurants and bars, even when the majority of nearby residents support the businesses.
Frumin, Bonds, and Silverman answered “yes” to the question, saying they support leaving the ANCs with the legal standing to challenge licenses when concerns about them are raised. Brown and Redd didn’t use the word yes, but said they support giving the ANC’s authority to file challenges to liquor license applications. Zuckerberg’s response was non-committal, saying he respects the work and dedication of both ANCs and “citizens that have a strong interest in liquor licensing issues.”