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Catania says LGBT voters face ‘a very tough call’

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D.C. City Council member David Catania spoke with DC Agenda on Monday regarding the evolving mayor’s race. Following is an abbreviated transcript of the conversation.

DC Agenda: It now appears as if Council Chair Vincent Gray will enter the mayoral race this week. Many in the LGBT community will likely be faced with a tough choice, choosing between two candidates who have been supportive on LGBT issues. Where do you stand on this?

David Catania: That’s a predicament I’m facing as a person and as a voter myself because I happen to like both of them as individuals and as public officials. So it’s going to be a very tough call, I think, for members of the LGBT community. On what basis do they go with? Both have excellent scores as far as I’m concerned on LGBT issues. Both were very early and strong supporters of marriage equality. Both support me in the work we’re trying to do to overhaul the HIV/AIDS Administration. We have an excellent senior deputy [Shannon Hader of the Department of Health, who serves as director of the HIV/AIDS Administration] here. The mayor has done quite a lot to support her. It hasn’t always gotten the attention I think it might. Similarly, the chairman has been a great advocate for the Effy Barry Initiative [on AIDS] to strengthen the infrastructure of communities that are now affected and infected in greater numbers. So these are going to come down to issues of personality and of policy. So I look forward to a rigorous debate. This is what campaigns are for. Both candidates are going to come out with their agendas and how they intend to accomplish it and then people will make choices based on each of those agendas they agree with more.

DC Agenda: Some in the community are saying the mayor appears to be strong on LGBT issues from a policy standpoint but they are put off by his personality and even say he comes across as arrogant. How do you see him on the substantive issues you care about?

Catania: On marriage equality, I had an early discussion with the mayor last year. He was just absolutely — it wasn’t even something he needed to consider. There was no reflection or no need to waiver — absolutely supportive. So the mayor has, I think, injured himself in how he’s perceived. He’s picked some fights that people don’t understand and they’re hard to explain at times. I think that’s hurt him in the eyes of some voters, who want in a chief executive, who want in a mayor a different demeanor at times than what we’ve seen demonstrated by Adrian. On the other hand, I can tell you that these are very demanding jobs. At times, shortness of temper comes with the territory. It’s an illustration of his frustration in wanting to do things quicker, better and faster. On the substance, I have to tell you, I support the mayor in his efforts to overhaul the schools. This has not been something easy. It’s been very hard and long overdue. And he and the [D.C. public schools] Chancellor [Michelle Rhee] have very strong personalities that can rub people the wrong way. But there’s no debating his commitment to overhauling the system for the betterment of the children. He seems really committed to it. And so now we’re going to have a clash of ideas. Both men have very similar ideologies, so it’s about how do we get from here to there. And that’s what this campaign is going to be about. It’s going to be very tough for the LGBT community to pick between these two because both have considerable strengths and, similarly, both have weaknesses.

DC Agenda: Some are asking whether if two or more LGBT-supportive candidates run against each other, both in the mayor’s race and for Council chair, can they split the progressive vote — including the LGBT vote — and allow a homophobic candidate or a candidate far less supportive on LGBT issues to win?

Catania: I just don’t think there’s any stomach in this city for intolerance of that variety. You know, not widespread. You’re going to have — in any community you’re going to have a certain percentage of people who don’t like a particular community for whatever reason. But I don’t believe there’s anything approaching even a plurality in this city in support of bigotry, I just don’t. I’ve been really thrilled about how well received marriage equality has been around the city. … So as far as I’m concerned, if Vince runs, come November, either Adrian Fenty or Vince Gray will be elected mayor. It will be one or the other. And they’re going to have to sharpen their talking points and come up with concrete proposals on how to fulfill the agenda, which is a progressive agenda for both of them. So we’re in good shape. People are going to be looking at — I’m going to be looking at what plans they have to get us through these difficult times. How do we sustain the safety net we’ve constructed?

DC Agenda: What’s your thought on R. Donahue Peebles, who also may enter the mayor’s race? He has said he would have signed the same-sex marriage bill if he was mayor, but some say he also indicated he supports a voter initiative on the issue.

Catania: Well, I’ll tell you what he said to me. We didn’t talk about a referendum or initiative. That subject didn’t come up. But unprompted, he did tell me how delighted he was about marriage equality and how much he supported it, how he finds that all of our rights are interconnected. And he doesn’t feel it’s appropriate to deny one group of rights because that same strategy was used against the community that he belongs to. I was very impressed by his reaction to the issue. So, again, as soon as we can get past these issues, we can always come together on how we’re going to construct the best city and who’s the best person to do that. And that’s going to require issues of judgment and temperament but also concrete evidence of what you have done.

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Maryland

Moore joins Democratic chorus endorsing Harris

Announcement comes day after Joe Biden ended 2024 campaign

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, left, applauds as Vice President Kamala Harris, right, endorses U.S. Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks last month. Moore is now endorsing Harris for president. (Photo by Ulysses Muñoz/Baltimore Banner)

BY PAMELA WOOD | Maryland Gov. Wes Moore joined the chorus of prominent Democrats backing Vice President Kamala Harris to be the party’s nominee on Monday.

In a statement, Moore said the vice president is the best choice for Democrats and the nation.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner website.

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District of Columbia

Trans woman announces candidacy for ANC race in Columbia Heights

D.C. government official to challenge gay incumbent

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Vida Rangel (Photo by Praddy Banerjee/@praddyban)

Vida Rangel, a transgender woman who currently serves as Director of Operations in the D.C. Mayor’s Office of Talent and Appointments, has announced her candidacy for an Advisory Neighborhood Commission seat in the city’s Columbia Heights neighborhood

In a statement released on July 11, Rangel said she is running for the ANC single member district seat of 1A10, which is currently held by first-term incumbent Billy Easley, who identifies as a gay man.

“I’m running a groundbreaking campaign as the first trans person of color who would be elected in the District of Columbia,” Rangel said in the statement. “Representation matters.”

Rangel’s statement says in her current city government job she is the ‘highest-ranking openly transgender official in D.C. government history.” If elected to the ANC, she said she would focus, among other things, on language access for Spanish speaking residents, affordable housing, and reliable and accessible public transportation.

“As an autistic, queer, nonbinary, transgender Latina woman, Rangel’s commitment to public service and community is shaped by her lived experience,” her campaign statement says. “Growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast, Vida was raised by working parents and grandparents, along with her six siblings. She saw firsthand how social services and support could counterbalance devastating situations like a medical emergency, an unexpected bill, or even a misfiled form,” the statement says.

“My experiences ignited a fire, propelling me to fight for the rights of all communities, whether it be nondiscrimination protections, housing justice, access to education, worker’s rights, or voting rights,” she says in the statement.

Rengel could not immediately be reached for comment on whether she disagrees with any of the positions or actions taken by incumbent commissioner Easley.

Billy Easley (Photo courtesy of Easley)

In his successful campaign for the ANC 1A10 seat in the city’s 2022 election Easley stated in an online statement  “Together, we can make our streets safer and our community stronger. This neighborhood is where my husband and I met, it is where we fell in love, and it’s where we’ve lived for the last ten years.”

Easley told the Washington Blade in a July 19 phone interview that he has been endorsed in his re-election campaign by Ward 1 D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau, which Easley said was a recognition of his accomplishments during his first term in office.

“In the last election I knocked on every door, and I’m going to do that again because it’s really important to me to connect with the voters and make sure that they’re being represented and to be an advocate for them,” he said. “Vida is a great person,” he added. “I have nothing bad to say about her,” he said.

“But I have a record of accomplishment and I’m going to be running on that,” he told the Blade. “And I’m going to be running on making sure that our residents’ voices are heard. So, I’m ready to go.”

He said his accomplishments in his first term in office include contacting each of the residents in his district who the city’s water department said may have lead pipes and  informing them how to get the pipes replaced through a free D.C. program; his appointment by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to her Juvenile Justice Advisory Group; organizing a Public Safety Summit with D.C. police and other city officials to address the issue of crime; and “successfully advocating” for more city funding for increased trash pick-up services in the neighborhood.

Easley points out that besides him, at least three other members of the 10-member ANC 1A10 identify as gay men.

Vincent Slatt, who serves as chair of the D.C. ANC Rainbow Caucus, said he believes between three and four-dozen ANC commissioners citywide are members of the LGBTQ community. 

“This is probably not the first time that two LGBTQ people have run against each other for an ANC seat,” Slatt told the Blade in a statement. “However, to have two out LGBTQ candidates of color in one race certainly seems like a milestone,” he said. “Recently, we have had two out trans ANCs. To have a third out trans candidate is a sign of how much further along our city is than other places in the country,” Slatt said. “Not fully enough, but on the path forward.”

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Comings & Goings

Peter Chandler named executive director of Internet Works

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Peter Chandler

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Peter Chandler on being named executive director of Internet Works. Since 2020, Internet Works has worked to ensure the voice of small and medium-sized online platforms is included in policy discussions typically targeted at the largest companies.

Laura Bisesto, chair of the board, said “We’re thrilled that Peter Chandler has joined as Internet Works’ Executive Director. The tech policy space is constantly changing, especially around intermediary liability, and as we work to ensure small and medium-sized tech companies are included in the policy debates lawmakers are having around the country, Peter was a natural fit for us.”

Chandler has 30 years of campaign, political, legislative, and advocacy experience at the state and federal levels. He previously served as Senior Vice President of Federal Policy and Government Relations at TechNet. During his time at the association, Peter was named a “Top Lobbyist” by The Hill newspaper. Prior to that he served as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine). Chandler has also consulted and trained numerous political and advocacy groups, including the ACLU, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute, and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in 1998. In 2020, he was elected to the board of the National LGBTQ Task Force.

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