October 7, 2013 at 9:23 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Harry Reid staffer runs for D.C. Council
Darrel Thompson, gay news, Washington Blade

Darrel Thompson (Photo courtesy of the Thompson campaign)

Native D.C. resident Darrel Thompson, who until last week worked as a deputy chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), announced his candidacy on Sunday for the Ward 6 City Council seat being vacated by incumbent Tommy Wells, who’s running for mayor.

“I’m the one who will bring new leadership to Ward 6,” Thompson told about 75 people who packed the roof deck space of Cava Mezze Restaurant in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill.

Thompson told the Blade he’s a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, including marriage equality. He portrayed himself in his announcement speech as an experienced public servant who will bring fresh leadership to a City Council in which too many of its members have put “self-interest” ahead of the public interest.

Although he didn’t mention him by name, supporters attending Thompson’s announcement ceremony said his repeated references to the need for new leadership in Ward 6 most likely were aimed at one of his expected opponents in the April 1 Democratic primary, Charles Allen, Wells’ chief of staff. Allen served as chair of the Ward 6 Democratic Committee until his term ended on Oct. 1.

Others expected to enter the Ward 6 Council race are ANC Commissioner David Garber, who represents a district near the Washington Nationals Stadium, and Josh Hart, a Capitol Hill civic activist.

As a Capitol Hill resident, Thompson said he loves the “rich diversity” of the neighborhood and the city as a whole, citing the mix of young and old, black and white, and “gay and straight,” among other groups that he believes benefits the city.

“We are better for our diversity,” he said. “We need to strengthen it.”

Thompson told the Blade following his remarks at his announcement gathering that he is a strong supporter of LGBT rights, including marriage equality.

“I absolutely believe that folks should be able to get married no matter who they love,” he said. “That’s where I stand.

He said that as a senior adviser to Reid for eight years he has worked on issues to advance LGBT equality, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He said he has also assisted Reid in pushing for more federal funding for AIDS-related programs.

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

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