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Committee voids election of gay official as head of Ward 6 Dems

Richardson formerly served as mayor’s GLBT liaison

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Jeffrey Richardson, Vincent Gray, Washington D.C., Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs, gay news, Washington Blade
Jeffrey Richardson, gay news, Washington Blade, Ward 6

Jeffrey Richardson formerly served as mayor’s GLBT liaison. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Democratic State Committee ruled on Oct. 11 that the Oct. 1 election of gay activist and city official Jeffrey Richardson as president of the Ward 6 Democratic Committee should be voided on grounds that eligible voters were denied the right to vote.

Richardson is director of the Mayor’s Office of Volunteerism and is the former head of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs.

The decision calling for voiding the election and calling for a new election came in an eight-page “Report and Order” dated Oct. 14 and signed by State Committee Chairperson and D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large). The report says the ruling was in response to separate challenges contesting the election by gay ANC Commissioner Alexander Padro and Democratic Party activist Sheila White.

The ruling calls for voiding the election of the entire slate of Ward 6 Democratic officers elected at the Oct. 1 meeting.

Padro and White stated in their challenges that they and others were misled by public notices announcing the election. They said the notices announced the election would be held during an Oct. 1 meeting scheduled to take place between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Instead, according to the ruling, those attending the meeting adopted “Rules of the Day” that “substantially reduced the anticipated voting time from 90 minutes to approximately 10 minutes.” The ruling says the only way potential voters could have known about the restricted voting time would be for them to have been present at the start of the meeting.

“The reduction of voting time unduly disenfranchised Ward 6 Democrats and ultimately resulted in the denial of the opportunity for certain Ward 6 voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” the ruling says.

Charles Allen, president of Ward 6 Democrats up until the completion of the election, told the Blade the procedures used for holding the election were consistent with the organization’s bylaws. He said the procedures and rules for the election were submitted to the State Committee in advance of the election and no one raised any objections.

Allen said he chose not to seek re-election. On Tuesday he announced his candidacy for the Ward 6 D.C. Council seat current held by Tommy Wells. Wells is giving up the seat to run for mayor.

Richardson did not respond to requests by the Blade for comment.

Chuck Burger, a Ward 6 Democrats member who won election on Oct. 1 as 3rd Vice President, disputed the State Committee’s ruling that the election was flawed.

“We are standing by our election,” he told the Blade. “We conducted our election according to our by-laws.”

Those familiar with State Committee rules said the State Committee may not have authority to force a ward Democratic committee to void an election and hold a new election. But the State Committee could refuse to certify the election and refuse to seat Richardson or another Ward 6 Democrats member as a full member of the State Committee, which serves as the governing body of the D.C. Democratic Party.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Barrie Daneker

    October 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Ok Mr. Burger have you read your bylaws. I would think not considering that election was to take place in Jun of 20111 and June of 2013 which did not happen under CM hopeless Mr. Allen. So please don’t start off your political career with lies already.

  2. Stephen P. Gorman

    October 18, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Points of Information.

    The Ward 6 Dems have the right to meet and elect officers. No one disputes that and the DC Democratic State Committee (DCDSC) cannot stop them. That said, in addition to not seating the four Ward 6 seats on the DCDSC, the DCDSC can rescind the Ward 6 Democratic Party's charter and award it to another Ward 6 Democratic group which gives the new group the four state committee seats. Finally, the DCDSC's nuclear response is to cancel the challenged officers membership in the DC Democratic Party. That means the challenged officers cannot vote during local Democratic party caucuses and primaries. They would be able to vote during General Elections.

    This happened to Indie Council member David Catania who was kicked out of the DC Republican Party by the former DC GOP chair & DC Log Cabin president Robert Kabel. Catania did not lose his membership in the National Republican Party. I do believe he eventually quit the National GOP party or rather, "The GOP Party left him".

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LGBTQ Democrats briefed on D.C. ranked choice voting bill

Council may already have enough votes to pass it

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Jatarius Frazier of the Capital Stonewall Democrats was among officials briefed on the ranked choice voting bill. (Photo courtesy D.C. Government)

Members of D.C.’s Capital Stonewall Democrats, the city’s largest local LGBTQ political group, received a briefing Monday night from the chief of staff for D.C. Council member Christina Henderson (I-At Large) on a bill she introduced in July calling for a “ranked choice” voting system for D.C. elections.

The bill, called the Voter Ownership, Integrity, Choice, and Equity (VOICE) Amendment Act of 2021, calls for D.C. to join about 50 other jurisdictions across the country, including New York City and San Francisco, in giving voters the option of ranking up to five candidates for a particular office in the order of their preference.

Under the ranked choice voting system, if a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the “first choice” votes, the candidate is declared the winner. But if no candidate receives greater than 50 percent of the first-choice votes in a race where there are three or more candidates, the system provides an instant runoff.

“The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who picked that candidate will have their votes count for their next choice,” according to a statement released by Henderson at the time she introduced the legislation. “This process continues in rounds until there’s a majority winner,” the statement says.

T.J. Maloney, Henderson’s chief of staff, told Capital Stonewall Democrats members during a virtual Zoom meeting that studies of the ranked choice voting system in jurisdictions where it has been adopted show that overall voter turnout has increased and, following a voter education process, voters appear to adjust and support the system.

Six other D.C. Council members joined Henderson in co-introducing the VOICE ranked choice voting bill, indicating it may already have a seven-vote majority in its favor on the 13-member Council. However, Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) does not support the current version of the bill, according to spokesperson Lindsay Walton.

Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), the chair of the Council’s Judiciary Committee where the bill was sent, has not scheduled a hearing on the bill, even though Allen is one of the bill’s co-introducers.

Last week, the D.C. Democratic State Committee, which is the governing body of the D.C. Democratic Party and of which the Capital Stonewall Democrats is an affiliated member, voted to oppose the VOICE Act legislation. Some of its members said they believe a ranked choice voting system would be beneficial to the city’s smaller political party candidates, including Republicans and Statehood Green Party candidates, and would place Democratic Party candidates at a disadvantage.

Gay Democratic activist John Fanning, who was an unsuccessful candidate for the Ward 2 D.C. Council seat in the 2020 D.C. Democratic primary, said he favors a simple runoff election system over a ranked choice voting system in cases where multiple candidates run, and none receive at least 50 percent of the vote.

Among the ranked choice bill’s supporters is gay Democratic activist Austin Naughton, who serves as chair of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee. Naughton told the Washington Blade he is not an expert on the ranked choice voting system but his initial research into the system leads him to believe the system has the potential for providing a greater electoral voice for minority communities, including possibly the LGBTQ community and LGBTQ candidates who run for public office.

Capital Stonewall Democrats President Jatarious Frazier said the group was in the process of learning more about the ranked file voting system. No one raised the issue of the group taking a position on the legislation at Monday night’s meeting.

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Lesbian D.C. housing director to retire

Polly Donaldson worked to expand affordable units

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Polly Donaldson (Blade file photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

Polly Donaldson, who has served as director of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development since 2015 as one of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s first high-level LGBTQ appointments, announced on Sept. 10 that she will leave her position at the end of this month to retire.

A statement released by the mayor’s office says Donaldson has led the design and implementation of the mayor’s housing initiative that has produced more than 14,250 units of affordable housing with another 12,300 units under construction or in the planning stages.

“When I came into office and committed to investing at least $100 million into the Housing Production Trust Fund every year, I knew we would need a leader with a true passion for affordable housing to get those funds out the door and into the community – and Polly was the right person for the job,” Bowser said in the statement.

“Then, two years ago, when we set a bold goal to build 36,000 new homes by 2025, with at least a third of them affordable, I was confident that Polly would have a plan to make that happen,” the mayor said in her statement. “She leaves D.C. government with our city on track to meet that goal, and for that we are grateful, and we celebrate her service to our city.”

At the time Donaldson began her job as the city’s housing director she was a recognized expert in affordable housing and homeless related programs. She had served since 2004 as executive director of the Transitional Housing Corporation, a nonprofit organization that provides services to homeless people and develops programs for transitioning them into permanent homes.

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HRC endorses McAuliffe, Ayala, Herring in Va.

Advocacy group on Tuesday announced statewide endorsements

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday announced endorsements for three Virginia candidates on the statewide ballot in November.

These endorsements include Terry McAuliffe for governor, state Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William County) for lieutenant governor and Mark Herring for reelection as attorney general.

“All Virginians deserve leaders who will fight for their rights to achieve health and success regardless of who they are or who they love,” said HRC in their press release. “The Human Rights Campaign is proud to endorse incredible champions who have spent their careers delivering on that promise of equality.”

McAuliffe, who was governor from 2014-2018, signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state employees and vetoed every anti-LGBTQ bill that came across his desk during his tenure.

“Every human being deserves to be treated equally, live free from fear, and thrive regardless of who they are or who they love,” McAuliffe said. “I am grateful for the support of the Human Rights Campaign, and together we will continue to ensure Virginia remains open and welcoming to all.”

Herring, a vocal supporter of LGBTQ equality, in 2017 joined 18 other state attorneys general in calling on Congress to block then-President Trump’s ban on transgender service members openly serving in the military.  

Ayala, a state delegate since 2018, similarly co-sponsored and voted in support of numerous pro-equality bills, including the landmark Virginia Values Act, a bipartisan measure that made Virginia the first state in the South to extend nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

If elected, Ayala will become the Virginia’s first female and woman of color lieutenant governor.

Virginia’s statewide general election is Nov. 2. Early voting begins Friday.

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