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Silverman wins vote, falls short of Stein Club endorsement

Five Democrats running in at-Large D.C. Council race compete for LGBT group’s support



Elissa Silverman, At-Large Council election, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade
Elissa Silverman, At-Large Council election, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade

Elissa Silverman (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

City Council candidate Elissa Silverman beat her four fellow Democratic rivals Thursday night at an endorsement forum sponsored by the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club but fell short of capturing a 60 percent vote total needed to win the club’s endorsement.

Silverman, a budget analyst and former journalist, received 39 votes, or 54.9 percent, in a second ballot runoff against interim Council member Anita Bonds, who received 26 votes, or 36.6 percent. Five club members voted to “abstain” from choosing a candidate in the runoff balloting.

The five Democrats who competed for the Stein Club endorsement and two others – a Republican and a Statehood Green Party candidate – are running in an April 23 special election for an at-large D.C. Council seat. The seat became vacant when Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) won election last year as Council Chair.

Earlier this year, the D.C. Democratic State Committee, which Bonds chairs, chose her to fill the seat as an interim Council member until the special election is held.

At the Stein Club forum Thursday night, Silverman received 43.6 percent in a first ballot vote, with Bonds receiving 32 percent. Attorney and Ward 3 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Matthew Frumin received 14 percent on the first ballot; former at-large Council member Michael A. Brown received 7 percent. Attorney Paul Zuckerberg, an advocate for marijuana decriminalization, received 2.8 percent.

Close to one hundred people turned out for the forum, which was held at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington on Ridge Street, N.W., in the city’s Shaw neighborhood.

The voting took place after the five candidates gave opening remarks and answered questions presented by club member Earl Fowlkes, who served as the forum’s moderator. In response to questions by Fowlkes and written questions by audience members, each of the candidates expressed strong support for LGBT rights.

Many of the questions addressed non-LGBT issues, prompting the candidates to discuss their views on education reform, homelessness, unemployment, and the city’s procurement policies among other issues.

“I would have loved to have gotten the endorsement, but we had a majority of Stein Club members support me,” Silverman said after the forum. “So I’m thrilled.”

Silverman’s strong showing came after 14 prominent LGBT activists, most of whom are Stein Club members, announced their support for Silverman in an invitation to an LGBT “meet and greet” event for the candidate to be held at a Dupont Circle area gay bar. Among them are former club treasurer and transgender activist Alexandra Beninda and club members Barbara Helmick, Gregory Cendana, and Jerry Clark.

Another ten prominent Stein Club members, including former club presidents Kurt Vorndran and Lateefah Williams, announced they are hosting a separate “meet and greet” for Bonds.

“I think the candidates did a very good job tonight,” said Stein Club President Martin Garcia. “I think all of the candidates have a very good understanding of our issues. Unfortunately, today the club couldn’t come to a consensus on just one,” he said.

“But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to be out and about participating in the election as we come closer to April 23,” Garcia said.

Frumin, who received the highest rating on LGBT issues from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, a +7 out of a possible +10 earlier this month, said he was pleased with the vote total he received at the Stein Club forum.

“I didn’t do the process of recruiting members to come so you have voters who are there,” he said. “So people who voted for me were people who were hearing from me tonight for the first time, and I think getting the votes I got was a pretty good accomplishment.”

Supporters of Brown noted that Brown received strong support from LGBT activists in his previous successful race for an at-large Council seat as an independent. They said his vote total of just 7 percent at Thursday’s Stein Club forum was due, in part, to a better effort by Silverman and Bond to turn out supports for the forum.

Brown lost his re-election bid in November to independent David Grosso, who ran as a reform candidate. Political observers say Brown’s widespread name recognition makes him a strong contender in the April 23 special election, where a low voter turnout is expected.

Republican Patrick Mara is also considered a viable candidate in the special election because he has attracted a large number of Democratic voters, including gay Democrats, in two previous races for a Council seat.

Silverman worked as a reporter for the Washington City Paper as the paper’s “Loose Lips” political columnist before becoming a reporter at the Washington Post. Since 2009 she has worked as a budget analyst for the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.

She told the Blade after the forum that her strong showing from Stein Club members was due to her positions and her approach to addressing both LGBT and non-LGBT issues.

“I think Stein Club members care about this city, they care about this city’s ethics, they care about spending our tax dollars well, they care about being an inclusive city,” she said. “Those are all things that are central to my campaign.”

During a discussion among club members following the appearance of the candidates, Stein Club treasurer Barrie Daneker urged members to vote for Bonds.

“Anita Bonds attended her first Gertrude Stein meeting in 1978,” he said. “She’s been supportive of our community for a long time…We couldn’t have a better candidate for the City Council,” Daneker said, on LGBT and all other issues.



HME Consulting and Advocacy stands on frontline of LGBTQ policy

Heidi Ellis is a consultant who doesn’t take clients ‘not aligned with my mission’



‘Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,’ says Heidi Ellis. (Photo courtesy of Ellis)

September is here, which means Congress and the D.C. Council return from their August recess and life for consultant Heidi Ellis quickly gets busy. 

Her days are filled with negotiating with Council members, phone calls with clients, and policy planning for advocacy groups. The organizations she represents are looking to her to help them push policy and she hopes to guide them to victory. 

Ellis’s company, HME Consulting and Advocacy, came after years of working in the public and private sectors as a consultant. In 2019, Ellis decided to shift her focus to work that stood at the center of the intersections in which she lives. She sought to figure out how she could better serve her community as a Black queer Latino woman. Ellis recognized that there was a niche for mission-driven consulting in the District. 

“I was sought out and recruited by a lot of organizations that wanted me and I took a beat, because I was like ‘Do I want to go back into a machine where even if I do effect change, I have to answer to someone?’”she said, in reference to consulting agencies that were in pursuit of her talent. Ultimately, she decided against continuing her work under another company. “By doing what I do, I have much more flexibility for one to say ‘Yes’ but also to say ‘No’.”

Although Ellis has considered going back to working in the corporate space, she still loves the flexibility of being able to be nimble as a private consultant. 

Although Ellis doesn’t work entirely in the advocacy space, her consulting clients still align with her personal values. She joked that she differs strongly from the stereotypical money-driven D.C. consultant who sports Brooks Brothers suits on K Street. 

“Even though I am a private consultant … my work is very much mission driven,” she said. “I don’t take any clients that are not aligned with my mission.”

Her mission is simple, Ellis is “committed to elevating issues that sit at the nexus of education, mental health, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color.”

“The more marginalized you are, the more you suffer from the failures of policy and the gaps of service,” she said. 

As a consultant in the advocacy space, Ellis does the behind-the-scenes work for organizations to help correct these policy failures and close the gaps. Whether she is facilitating training for companies to better understand how to serve their LGBTQ communities, or she is on the frontline of education policy changes –– Ellis aims to only do work that she is passionate about.

She said that the balance of her combined passion and level-headedness help her to build trusting relationships with her clients and in the end, “Get stuff  done.”

Since starting her organization, some of her proudest work has been done with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition. The coalition is made up of more than 30 organizations that aim to advocate for investments and policy changes that affect LGBTQ lives. As a leader of this coalition, her services include policy support, facilitation, training, initiative development and organizational redesign. Since she began leading the coalition, they have raised more than $5 million of investments in LGBTQ programs.

Later this fall, she will work with the DC LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition along with the ANC Rainbow Caucus to convene the first LGBTQ+ Housing Summit from Nov. 29-30.

“The one thing we all recognize is that housing is the common denominator of every other social affliction facing LGBTQ communities,” she said.  

At the summit they will focus on the barriers within the current housing system and explore revitalized approaches to dealing with the current housing market. To pre-register for the event, visit the LGBTQ+ Housing Summit website.

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Comings & Goings

Former D.C. resident opens art gallery in San Francisco



Jonathan Carver Moore

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].

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success.

Congratulations to Jonathan Carver Moore on opening his contemporary art gallery in San Francisco. The gallery specializes in working with emerging and established artists who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women. As the only openly gay Black male-owned gallery in San Francisco, Moore is committed to amplifying the voices of the often-underrepresented artists through a Black queer lens. He said, “I want the gallery to be a place where the LGBTQ+ community and people of color walk inside and see themselves knowing that they belong. I want us to be able to collect work from and support underrepresented artists who are often overlooked, but add some much value to our culture.”

Moore is also the founder of ARTUCATED, a digital journal that helps share, spotlight, and educate people about marginalized artists. Previously he was director of Donor Relations, Partnerships & Programming Director with the Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco. He was Communications Manager, Rosenberg Foundation; and Associate Director of Public Relations, Out & Equal, San Francisco Bay Area. 

Moore earned his bachelor’s in Sociology, Women’s Studies, from George Washington University in D.C.; and his master’s in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications, also from George Washington University.

Congratulations also to Jim Bobick on having his paintings included in a permanent collection by Saks Fifth Avenue. He said, “I am thrilled Saks Fifth Avenue chose my art for its permanent collection. I have long been a customer of the store and an admirer of the fashion designers represented there. I am especially pleased to know my work is on public view in the Chevy Chase, Maryland store. Not only did I grow up in the area, for part of my education I attended art school nearby, where I had the good fortune of studying under the notable painter Allen Dester Carter of Washington, D.C., whose work is in the Smithsonian collection. My ties to the Washington area art scene and my love of Saks makes this professional moment especially important to me. I am grateful and honored the store chose my paintings for their collection.” 

He has had numerous exhibitions of his work, including: Gallery 101 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (solo); Coral Springs Museum of Art, Coral Springs, Fla. (group); Studio B “Delicacies” Washington, D.C. (group); Columbia Art Center “Abstract Paintings” (solo); and Gallery 50 “Freestyle” (solo) Rehoboth Beach, Del. He has been written about in several publications including Michael Mills, Jim Bobick Creates Landscapes of the Mind at Gallery 101, New Times; Arterpillar South Florida Arts Blog; Stefan Braham, Eclectic Expressions, Coastal Style Magazine; Artist Looks Beyond the Temporal Beauty, Coast Press.

He earned his bachelor’s in Visual Arts, University of Maryland, College Park, Fine Art; and attended the Maryland College of Art and Design. 

Jim Bobick
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Arts & Entertainment

2023 Best of LGBTQ DC Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting

Vote for your favorite finalists through October 2nd!



It is time to celebrate the best of LGBTQ+ DC! You nominated and now we have our finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2023 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 2nd. Our 2023 Best of LGBTQ DC will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ DC Awards Party on October 19th and our special issue will come out on Friday, October 20th.

Thank you to our sponsors: ABSOLUT, Heineken, PEPCO, Shakers, Infinite Legacy.



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