January 14, 2014 | by Lane Hudson
Mayor Gray has earned our support
Lane Hudson, Vincent Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

Lane Hudson at Mayor Gray’s re-election campaign kick-off event on Sunday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

It was nearly four years ago that a man with an impeccable reputation decided to challenge the incumbent mayor. Up to that point, Vince Gray had a lifelong career in non-profit management dedicated to improving the lives of others. He served for two years on the D.C. Council before being elected as its chair. By all accounts, his tenure was seen as a time of civility and productivity.

Once he put his hat in the ring to challenge Adrian Fenty, what followed was terrible to watch. The Fenty campaign worked vigorously to cast Gray as the new Marion Barry and the Washington Post editorial board was happy to play the accomplice. The largely white half of the city was mostly willing to go along with it.

While it could not be further from the truth, the betrayal of a few people furthered the notion that Vince Gray was just as the Fenty campaign had sought to portray him.  Those people are in jail or rightfully headed there soon. In the meantime, Mayor Gray has focused on doing his job.

Last week, he addressed the 2010 campaign in a wide-ranging interview with WUSA reporter Bruce Johnson and also during his re-election kickoff rally. He expressed remorse for the embarrassment that the misdeeds of his former staff had brought to the District. More importantly, he asked us to forgive him for it.

That’s exactly what we should do. He has said repeatedly that he had no knowledge of the misdeeds of the 2010 campaign and three years of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney has given us no reason to think otherwise.

On the issues, Mayor Gray is superior to every other candidate. He is the most LGBT friendly mayor in the country and is incredibly proud of it. He has always been a supporter of marriage equality in spite of coming from Ward 7, where support for marriage equality is among the lowest in the District. Under his leadership, D.C. developed a job training program for transgender residents and began the very first, and only, transgender awareness publicity campaign run by a local government. D.C. public schools have taken a much more proactive stance against bullying LGBT students and some high schools are actually sponsoring LGBT student pride days.

At this week’s Stein Club meeting, Mayor Gray said he absolutely supported D.C. recognizing the marriages performed in Utah before the Supreme Court stayed the lower court’s ruling pending appeal. Responding to a question from transgender Stein Club Officer Bobbie Strang, he also expressed support for outlawing transgender exclusions in insurance plans that are regulated by D.C. government. This would make a huge difference for the transgender community. These are positions that no one else in the race has taken.

In addition to his record, Vince is unmatched in strength of character. He was born and raised in the District and chose to stay here to build a life, a career and a family. His entire professional career, other than a brief stint running the D.C. Department of Health, was managing non-profits that provided services for people with mental disabilities and homeless teens. This is a man whose entire life has been about serving the neediest among us. That is exactly the kind of person I want leading our city.

Also, in a stark change from the previous mayoral administration, Mayor Gray and his staff have been readily accessible and very responsive to the LGBT community. He doesn’t only make himself and his staff available to our community and our advocacy organizations, he has also been very generous with his time, attending more LGBT events than any previous mayor.

Needless to say, the District is doing pretty darn good too: Cranes in the air, $1.5 billion in the bank, more than 1,000 new residents each month, rapidly improving test scores in public schools, nearly $200 million for affordable housing projects, lower unemployment numbers, burgeoning development east of the river, a growing technology sector and many more good things happening here. We are starting to appear on lists for good reasons instead of bad ones.

To sum it up, we’ve got a good thing going with Mayor Vince Gray. Let’s keep things headed in the right direction. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Lane Hudson is a D.C.-based Democratic activist and writer.

5 Comments
  • The recent Post poll had an interesting result that the Post reporters and everyone else failed to notice. The real winner was None of the Above, which beat Mayor Gray 26% to 24%.

    The Post hid it by breaking the NOTA vote up into “no one,” “other,” “no opinion,” subcategories that themselves often outpolled most of the field. But added together they beat them all, including Mayor Gray.

    • My guess would be that this is where the increase in the Mayor’s share of the vote will come from. With 51% approval rating across the board (and 56% among Democrats) and only 24% support for re-election, plenty of people are clearly waiting to make up their mind. This 24% is his bottom number. He will only increase from there. The other candidates have been running for six months to a year. The mayor has only been running for a few weeks. The only place he has to go is up.

  • LOL. Ah, c’mon!

    Gray came to power with a dishonest, shadow campaign. He has governed largely in the shadows, too– via highly controlled sound bites and photo ops, public relations surrogates, too.

    In addition to the skeezy ethics of his rise to power, Gray has a pathetic record on apprehending anti-LGBT hate criminals. So does Gray’s MPD– a police force Gray gutted while the city’s population exploded under his watch.

    And if 24% is Gray’s “bottom number” from which he “will only increase from there”– what should that tell us about how proud LGBT people should be of DC’s mayor?

    • I don’t deny that there were several people who betrayed Vince Gray and broke the law in the last campaign. But I believe him when he says that he had no knowledge of it. Some people will not trust that and some people will.

      The police force is growing. There has been no gutting of the department, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to there.

      Gray has not governed in the shadows. He has been out in the public more often than prior mayors. Perhaps you feel like he has governed largely in the shadows because the media has covered very little other than the US Attorney’s investigation. I am hoping that the campaign will allow more attention to be focused on his record in office.

  • *****
    “The police force is growing. There has been no gutting of the department, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to there.”
    *****

    Thanks, Lane. It’s a good question you raise regarding MPD’s force structure, and I’ll address it below. Unfortunately, I can’t explain that in a soundbite.

    But we should not be gullible with Gray’s denials of knowledge/ participation in his skeezy 2010 campaign– any more than state and federal prosecutors will be gullible regarding Chris Christie’s denials of knowledge of corruption and electoral malfeasance. The notion that powerful mayors/ vice-mayors/ council chairs or governors “were in the dark” about what their closest aids were doing simply doesn’t pass anyone’s giggle test.

    Rolling dice is no way to pick a mayor. This city deserves far better that GUESSING as to whether its mayor is telling the truth or not.

    Moreover, when corrupt politicians get away with such dishonesty, they tend to use even more dishonest practices and public communications in their day-to-day governance. Your comment about MPD, is a good example of passing on such official dishonesty for public consumption.

    Whatever your personal knowledge of MPD and law enforcement matters, I think you are simply repeating statistical lies and misleading remarks from the mayor and/or MPD’s chiefs. They’ll use you (or any other supportive LGBT face) in the same disingenuous way Fenty used Chris Dyer. For pure politics.

    The Gray/Lanier soundbite assertion that MPD “is growing” is highly misleading and mostly untruthful.

    For example, If MPD had replaced its retirees exactly one for one every year, but also added one additional sworn officer for every year of Vincent Gray’s and Adrian Fenty’s two terms of 8 years, then simple arithmetic tells us MPD is indeed “growing” and would have 7 or 8 officers more than it started with in 2007– well over 3,900 MPD sworn officers when Chief Ramsey left office.

    But in that very same time, the city’s population has exploded upward at a rate not seen since WWII. The District population is up 12%. And we all see it in residential and mixed-use construction projects all over town– with plenty of new tax revenue, too.

    Simple arithmetic also tells us, that to keep pace with MPD policing/ protection services for DC’s new arrivals, MPD’s sworn net force strength should have been increased by well over 400 sworn officers– to something over 4,300 sworn officers. But MPD’s sworn force strength is still somewhere between 3,900 and 4,000 officers– pretty musch .

    That’s how Gray has *GUTTED* MPD– through attrition and failing to keep high quality police recruitment up with DC’s exploding population. Gray did that like a thief in the night, too– with no public debate or discussion.

    BTW, that works out to about 7 or 8 officers LESS to patrol each PSA neighborhood. Why should any of us feel comfortable with Vincent Gray playing Russian Roulette with our public safety?

    And Lane, do try get accurate MPD statistics on how many anti-LGBT hate crimes have been *CLOSE with Arrest* since Gray took office?

    Through its repeated failures to protect LGBT residents from bloody, violent hate crimes, the Gray Administration has metaphorical LGBT blood on its hands. Why should we reward that horrific failure with a second term?

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