As a long-time resident of the District of Columbia and an active member of the LGBT community, it is my honor to explain why I am voting for Anita Bonds in the D.C. special election primary on April 23.
As a member of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club since 1978 and as chairman of the Democratic Committee, Bonds has been a strong champion of our issues. Patrick Mara, Elisa Silverman and Matthew Frumin have all been supportive. But Bonds has been a straight ally to our community long before straight allies were popular. In addition to being a champion for our community, Bonds has a distinguished record promoting the values of equality and fairness for all residents of the District, especially those who have been less fortunate.
To be honest, when I first heard that Bonds was running, I wasn’t initially a supporter. In general, I tend to support candidates who are socially progressive and support sweeping reform as a way to improve the city. I wondered if Bonds would be able to champion the progress that we’ve made as a city. This is a legitimate question and after meeting and talking with her, I was convinced that not only would she be able to move the city forward, but she would continue to be a passionate advocate for those in our city who haven’t been able to benefit from the rapid progress the city has made under the Williams, Fenty and Gray administrations.
Bonds has served the residents of the District of Columbia in many roles starting with cabinet-level positions for Mayors Barry and Pratt Kelly. During her tenure with the government, Bonds helped create the Mayor’s Summer Youth Job Program, which provided jobs for the youth of the city. In 1998, she was appointed director of neighborhood engagement for Mayor Williams and played an integral role in improving government responsiveness and the delivery of services to the neighborhood.
As the four-term chair of ANC 5C, which included the Bloomingdale, Eckington, Stronghold, Pleasant Hill, Truxton Circle and Edgewood communities, Bonds spearheaded many projects that benefited those neighborhoods, including the renovation of the Florida Avenue Park and the beautification of tree boxes throughout Ward 5. It was during her tenure that crime rates began to plummet and the property values of these neighborhoods began to change. This process that is happening all across the city has created some very contentious dialogue, which Bonds has tried to help facilitate.
I had the good fortune to grow up in Mt. Pleasant. I have seen a great transformation in my lifetime. Despite our great progress, we are a city of great economic disparity with a growing gap between those with resources and those without. Serving the needs of all residents is a complex challenge that faces us. On the one hand, increased property values provide much-needed revenue to provide world-class services to all residents. On the other, some of this progress has forced poorer residents out and there is a legitimate fear of displacement.
As someone who has benefited greatly from economic prosperity not of my own doing, I feel that it is important to support leaders who understand that it will take more than putting a logo on banners and letterhead to make this one city.
We need leaders who understand how to make government work for every resident from Chevy Chase to Congress Heights. Bonds is the best equipped of all the candidates running in this special election to be that Council member and I strongly encourage you to join me in supporting her on April 23.
Christopher Dyer is the former director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs under Mayor Adrian Fenty and a longtime activist in the city. Reach him via christopherdyer.com.