May 29, 2014 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Former HRC president to co-chair D.C. Council campaign
Joe Solmonese, HRC, gay news, Washington Blade

Former HRC president Joe Solmonese will assist Khalid Pitts’ campaign for Council. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Joe Solmonese, former president of the Human Rights Campaign, has been named co-chair of the campaign of D.C. businessman and progressive activist Khalid Pitts, who’s running as an independent for the at-large Council seat being vacated by mayoral candidate David Catania.

Pitts and his wife, Diane Gross, are owners of Cork Restaurant and Wine Bar and Cork Market and Tasting Room, separate businesses located along the restaurant and entertainment corridor on 14th Street, N.W., near U Street.

Pitts also serves as president of US Action, a progressive advocacy group, and secretary-treasurer of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority, which administers the city’s health insurance exchange program associated with the Obamacare law.

“Khalid Pitts is a friend, a community organizer, local business owner and a thoughtful progressive,” Solmonese said in a statement released by the Pitts campaign. “He has been a part of D.C.’s economic revitalization and has a thoughtful and responsible vision for the city’s future.”

Added Solmonese: “Khalid and I have talked on a number of occasions about the great strides we have made here in D.C. on behalf of LGBT equality. And we are both proud to have been a part of the fight to win marriage equality here.”

Pitts is one of at least seven candidates that have filed papers to run for the at-large Council seat as an independent. Democrat turned independent Elissa Silverman, who received strong support from LGBT activists in her previous unsuccessful race for the at-large seat, has been reaching out to the LGBT community for support this year.

Also running for the at-large seat being vacated by Catania is gay Republican Marc Morgan, who ran unopposed in the GOP primary on April 1.

Solmonese is a managing director and founding partner of Gavin/Solmonese, a corporate strategy and public affairs consulting firm with an office in D.C.

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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