February 21, 2018 at 6:54 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Lesbian Council candidate leads in fundraising
Dionne Bussey-Reeder, gay news, Washington Blade

Dionne Bussey-Reeder is running for an at-large D.C. Council seat. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Lesbian business woman Dionne Bussey-Reeder, who’s running as an independent for one of two at-large D.C. Council seats up for election this year, is ahead of all of the other at-large candidates in campaign fundraising, including incumbents Anita Bonds, a Democrat, and Elissa Silverman, an independent.

Bussey-Reeder’s lead in fundraising as of the Jan. 31 reporting period, in which she had a total of $53,685 raised, marks the second reporting period in a row that she has surpassed all rival candidates in money raised.

“I am truly humbled,” Bussey-Reeder said in a statement. “Because of more than three hundred individual donors, we doubled the amount raised by our opponent Elissa Silverman in the latest campaign fundraising report.

Silverman’s finance report shows she has raised a total of $25,126 as of Jan. 31.

Bussey-Reeder, 46, who owns Cheers at the Big Chair restaurant in the city’s Anacostia neighborhood, is considered Silverman’s main rival because the two are competing along with three other lesser-known candidates for an at-large seat that under D.C. law must go to a non-Democrat.

When contacted by the Blade, Silverman said she began her campaign fundraising on Jan. 15 and in just 15 days raised $25,126. She noted that it took Reeder 80 days to raise the $53,685 she reported in her Jan. 31 campaign finance report.

Silverman also pointed out that Reeder’s report shows she spent about $30,000 so far, much of it on a campaign consultant, and had $24,312 in cash on hand remaining as of the Jan. 31 reporting period. Silverman’s report shows she so far has spent $1,199.91 and has $23,926 in cash on hand.

“It doesn’t matter how much you have raised,” said Silverman. “It matters what you have left. And these numbers show we’re even.”

The others running for the “non-Democratic” seat are independent Omekongo Dibinga, Statehood Green Party candidate David Schwartzman, and Libertarian Party candidate Denise Hicks.

Dibinga’s finance report shows he has raised just $100 since he filed his name as a candidate. The Office of Campaign Finance website shows that neither Schwartzman nor Hicks has filed a finance report, indicating they have yet to raise funds for their campaigns.

Democrat Bonds, a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, is being challenged by five Democrats in the June 19 Democratic primary – communications firm worker Aaron Holmes, real estate development company associate Marcus Goodwin, Chesapeake Climate Action Network official Jeremiah Lowery; and Smithsonian Institution employee and Ward 8 ANC Commissioner Sharece Crawford.

Campaign finance reports filed by the four candidates show they had raised the following sums as of Jan. 31: Bonds, $14,117; Goodwin, $66,267; Lowery, $26,127; and Holmes, $18,685. Crawford had not filed a finance report and is presumed not to have raised funds for her campaign as of Jan. 31.

Although Bonds is trailing three of her Democratic primary opponents in fundraising her widespread name recognition and support among many D.C. Democrats places her as the frontrunner in her race for re-election.

Under the city’s election law, the highest two vote-getters in the November general election will be declared the winner of the two at-large Council seats.

In a related development, two more gay candidates are expected to be on the ballot in the June 19 Democratic primary. Gay Democrat and longtime Ward 8 civic activist Phil Pannell is running for an at-large seat on the D.C. Democratic State Committee. Gay Democratic activist John Fanning is running for a seat on the Democratic State Committee from Ward 2.

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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