May 7, 2014 | by Paul Kuntzler
Catania best-qualified candidate ever for D.C. mayor
David Catania, qualified, gay news, Washington Blade

David Catania filed papers to run for mayor on March 12 at the Reeves Center. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Isaiah Webster III wrote in his May 2 Blade column that Democrats should support Muriel Bowser over David Catania simply because Bowser managed to win the Democratic nomination with a small percentage of Democrats. On April 1, 90 percent of the District’s registered voters either did not vote or they voted for other candidates.

Bowser, who ran as the anti-Gray candidate of resentment, vowed not to support the Democratic nominee if Mayor Gray won the nomination. Now that she has prevailed, Webster writes that Democrats should vote for Bowser despite her questionable qualifications.

My involvement in the Democratic Party goes back to fall 1960 in Michigan when I helped organize Grosse Pointe Young Democrats in support of John Kennedy’s election.  At 19, I first arrived in Washington during January 1961 for JFK’s inauguration.

In 1979, I was the first openly gay person to serve on the D.C. Democratic State Committee. During the 1980s, I was an officer of the District’s Democratic party. In 1980, I was one of five D.C. gay delegates to the Democratic National Convention in New York at Madison Square Garden. The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, moreover, was founded in my living room in January 1976.

Webster accused Lane Hudson in his April 23 column of “taking his case right to the gutter.” But it is Webster who got down in the gutter when the raised the issue of race:  “Would Muriel Bowser be deemed qualified enough if she were a white gay man like David Catania or Lane Hudson?”

Outside the District, voting for Democrats has great meaning. But here in Washington, the issue of party affiliation has little relevance, other than most decisions are made within the Democratic Party.

On April 30 at Policy Restaurant on 14th Street, N.W., Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance celebrated its 43rd anniversary. Carol Schwartz, a progressive Republican and an excellent former member of the City Council, financially supported the event as a sponsor.

So did Council members Catania, Jack Evans, Vincent Orange and Tommy Wells.  Every time that Schwartz ran for office, I voted for her.

In Bowser’s years on the Council, what has she accomplished? Although Bowser chairs the committee responsible for housing issues, she has done nothing to address the housing crisis. The InTowner newspaper called her “derelict in carrying out her assigned responsibility.”

On the important issue of education, Bowser has failed to offer a single proposal of substance to improve our schools.

Since 1997, Catania has been elected five times — winning votes in all eight wards.  Over the years, David has achieved an outstanding record of accomplishments. Colbert I. King of The Washington Post wrote: “They don’t come any smarter, more dedicated or gutsier than Catania. And no one works harder.”

I have known every mayor since the late Walter Washington was elected in November 1974. I can write with great confidence that David Catania is the best-qualified person to have ever run for mayor of the District of Columbia.

Paul Kuntzler is a longtime LGBT advocate and D.C. resident.

15 Comments
  • Peter D. Rosenstein

    I respect and have worked on campaigns with Mr. Kuntzler, who has worked hard to bring about equality in the District for the LGBT community, but I question the following that he has written:

    “Outside the District, voting for Democrats has great meaning. But here in Washington, the issue of party affiliation has little relevance, other than most decisions are made within the Democratic Party.

    On April 30 at Policy Restaurant on 14th Street, N.W., Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance celebrated its 43rd anniversary. Carol Schwartz, a progressive Republican and an excellent former member of the City Council, financially supported the event as a sponsor.

    So did Council members Catania, Jack Evans, Vincent Orange and Tommy Wells. Every time that Schwartz ran for office, I voted for her.”

    As Mr. Kuntzler knows since he has been so involved in D.C. politics the D.C. Democratic State Committee has always stayed out of party primaries and they don’t make decisions for the candidates. They in no way control the candidates or actually dictate their positions. They do represent a framework with the national Democratic Party platform for people to understand what it means when someone says they are a Democrat. Then he writes about members of both parties supporting the GLAA. Well the GLAA is non-partisan so that is most appropriate and should be a surprise to no one.

    Then he writes about having voted for Ms. Schwartz which I often did as well, even actively supporting her for Mayor in 1994, and for Mr. Catania when he ran for Council. But that was a vote for a candidate that wasn’t a Democrat to fill a seat that only a non-Democrat could fill. One couldn’t vote for a Democrat for the seats those two held as they were reserved for other than a Democrat. I assume that Mr. Kuntzler also voted for a Democrat in those elections and the Democrat usually won those elections with twice the number of votes that the non-Democrat won their seat with.

    Many of us won’t agree on who the best candidate for Mayor is in this election but as we discuss the value of Party politics and what it means let’s do it accurately and with respect for each other and members of all parties.

    • Peter, that you supported Carol for Mayor undercuts the Party-unity argument. And I would still love to hear you and others, including Muriel Bowser, discredit the race and sexual orientation bating posed by Isaiah Webster. That kind of divisive rhetoric has no place in public discourse.

      • WOW….he said Catania best-qualified candidate ‘ever’ for D.C. mayor

        Yeah Lane, I guess Black voters with a statement like that will come a running! Talk about DIVISIVE?????

        LOL!!!!!!

      • Scott Douglass

        I don’t see in Peter’s comment (it may have been made somewhere else and i know you two know each other) where he is making a party-unity arguement, so much as he wants people to discuss past events accurately.

      • I have to second Lane on this one Peter. You just lost the bully pulpit on party loyalty trumping LGBT affinity. One has to wonder why you would have even pushed that rationale for supporting Bower over Catania when you clearly have not practiced what you have been so vehemently preaching. Perhaps, she’s just too hard a sell based on merit.

  • “Many of us won’t agree on who the best candidate for Mayor is in this election but as we discuss the value of Party politics and what it means let’s do it accurately and with respect for each other and members of all parties.” -Peter
    ========================================================
     
    You ought take your own advice, Peter. Wake up and smell the rank-and-file Dem voters’ coffee brewing. Don’t you get it? It’s not at all about past “party loyalty” for DC Democrats.
     
    A month ago, Democrats voted to stay home — in unprecedented numbers — rather than vote for any Democrat they considered too corrupt, too dishonest or too inexperienced to lead the families and people they love into the future.
     
    I know Bowser and her cynical campaign peeps would love to distract us from her inexperience and her empty-rhetoric, stealthy campaign with their new racialist, homophobic attacks on Lane Hudson and other LGBT supporters of David Catania.
     
    But there is a reason Catania has enjoyed far greater support among our city’s voters of color than Bowser has from LGBT voters. It is a simple reason too. For 17 years David has been the real deal in caring about issues of PERSONAL interest to DC’s African Americans and other people of color.
     
    David Catania has always focused on loyalty to people and THEIR problems, not party ‘loyalty’ and party problem$.
     
    Bowser should stop trying to distract DC voters with her campaign’s divisive rhetoric. Bowser needs to stop hiding from DC voters. And Muriel Bowser needs to stop hiding from David Catania.
     
    Why not a face-to-face debate or discussion, every two weeks from now through October? Why is Muriel Bowser afraid to discuss the issues with her opponents?

  • An excellent (and deserved) endorsement.

  • This argument is like every other political argument i ever hear. This candidate is terrible vote for this one. Neither one has done any good or evil that would make them qualified or unqualified as far as i know. So to me that leaves the physical comparisons. Gay vs. Straight, Black vs. White, Male vs. Female. If Catania were not Gay would the Blade be even talking about him?

  • Chris Chocolatebearcub Capers

    Thank You Shawn as I always say the exit polls will tell everything. And you notice one guy made a stupid mistake by calling Lane Hudson 'divisive' and these guys are attaching it to Muriel Bowser. DUMB DUMB DUMB!

  • David Catania has a strong record of accomplishment – from transforming the District’s dysfunctional HIV/AIDS agency to strengthening and expanding safety net programs like Medicaid and the DC Alliance.

    By contrast, Muriel Bowser has accomplished little if anything in her seven years on the Council. This is a choice election – and the better choice couldn’t be clearer.

  • There you have it folks. Now that we have Same Sex Marriage and full equality in DC, what’s the point of party allegiance and loyalty? The GOP has “RHINOs”: Republicans In Name Only. Does this race mean that the DC Democrats have “DINOs” : Democrats In Name Only?

    This election will be very interesting and it could mean the exclusion of Democratic Party Catania supporters during delegate selection for Hillary Clinton and the end of those unity breakfasts.

  • Peter Rosenstein

    Actually I am honored that so many commenters seem to find my comments interesting and worthy of rebuttle. As to the low turnout in an April Fools Day primary anyone could have predicted that. It is the reason the Council voted to have it then rather than June. I was opposed to that date and wrote about it.

    But there are many reasons that people stayed home and one of them is that the City is doing really well in so many areas and people tend to come out to vote in bigger numbers when they have real issues that they want addressed or are incredibly unhappy with the way things are going and that isn’t the case today in DC.

    As to Party loyalty nothing I have done in the past would undercut any position I have today. I think Party loyalty – if you believe in and have worked for the principles of the Party you are loyal too – is one of many considerations legitimate in deciding who to vote for. I have clearly never suggested it is the only consideration.

    Brianslons makes the following statement “But there is a reason Catania has enjoyed far greater support among our city’s voters of color than Bowser has from LGBT voters.” It would be interesting to find out the basis of fact for that statement.

    Again it will be a long campaign and we haven’t nearly addressed all the issues that will be brought forth in the next six months.

  • “Again it will be a long campaign and we haven’t nearly addressed all the issues that will be brought forth in the next six months.” – Peter
    =============================================================
     
    Speaking of addressing all the issues, Peter, why won’t your Fenty-like, stealth candidate Bowser begin to do that? DC voters want their candidates, face-to-face, in a sit-down with Kojo Nnamdi. And right now wouldn’t be too soon. Indeed, why not a series of mayoral round-table discussions?
     
    Why is Muriel Bowser afraid to discuss the many issues you mention above, forthrightly and face-to-face with her opponents? That is pretty contemptuous of voters and the process, don’t you think?
     
    BTW, that’s some really robust spinning you’re having to do for Bowser, Peter. It looks like it hurts. I’m sure David Catania wouldn’t make you jump through hoops like that! You ought to reconsider.
    ;)

  • Chris The DC Bear

    OH Please we will all see on election day. All this crapola back and forth! Is killing me softly.

  • Yeah. Let’s just put it on auto-pilot and take a nap … for SIX months.
     
    We don’t want to bore Chris with face-to-face debates/ discussions. And we sure don’t want to confuse Bowser with real issues.
    :-o

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