March 20, 2014 at 3:00 pm EDT | by John Klenert
Catania is superior candidate for mayor
David Catania, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As a lifelong Democrat, I was interested to read Lateefah Williams’ March 12 piece in which she argues that LGBT voters should look no further than the political party of a candidate when choosing our next mayor. First, I know Williams and find her to be a passionate advocate for the causes close to her heart. However, the notion that we should blindly fall in line and support the candidate with a “D” at their end of their name does a disservice to our community and is not in the best interest of our city.

Williams would have us look only at a label rather than the quality of a candidate’s character and record. David Catania has fought for the LGBT community and stood up for “Democratic values” more than any other elected official in the District. His efforts to improve public schools, expand healthcare coverage to all District residents regardless of their immigration status, create a medical marijuana program and foster economic opportunity for the entire city speak for themselves and clearly reflect our shared values.

There is no other candidate in the race who can hold a candle to David Catania when it comes to issues affecting both the future of our city generally and our community specifically.  David not only authored the bill that brought the District marriage equality, but he was the chief executive of the tireless and relentless campaign to guide it to passage. It was David who brought the various voices of our community together behind an effective and unified strategy and it was David who fought against and stared down the prospect of a ballot initiative that could have been its undoing.

Because of David’s leadership as chair of the Council’s Committee on Health, the District increased the number of publicly funded HIV tests from 8,320 in 2005 to nearly 138,000 in 2012, the final year of his tenure as chair. Further, he was instrumental in taking the District from a place of ignorance about its epidemic to being a national leader in effectively tracking and understanding the spread of the disease. The District’s annual HIV/AIDS epidemiology report that David funded and championed is now a model for jurisdictions across the country. As a result of this work, the number of newly diagnosed cases fell from 700 in 2008 to 363 in 2012 and the number of HIV-related deaths went from 238 in 2008 to 69 in 2012. What’s more, because of his efforts to uncover and address the mismanagement of the city’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program, the number of District residents receiving life-saving medication for free has tripled since 2008 and there is no waiting list.

When the only acute care hospital east of the Anacostia River faced imminent collapse, David took action. He held hearings, rooted out the problems, championed the cause of saving the hospital, and led the effort to secure grants and loans to ensure the hospital’s survival. What was once a facility at risk of being unable to ensure basic patient safety was reborn as “United Medical Center” with new equipment, facilities and patient services. The hospital has seen patient volumes increase and its bottom line drastically improve. If not for David’s intervention, this critical component of the District’s healthcare infrastructure and social safety net would have been lost forever.

In 2013, David introduced legislation to undo the District’s prohibition on surrogacy agreements. Under District law, couples and single people wanting to have children face a fine of up to $10,000 or a year in jail if they enter into a surrogacy agreement. The District is the only jurisdiction in the country with such a prohibition. The legislation authored by David permits surrogacy agreements and establishes a legal framework to protect those agreements.

David authored and guided to passage legislation to undo laws that burdened our transgender brothers and sisters. Until last year, the District required expensive medical procedures before individuals could obtain a birth certificate that reflects their true gender identity. Seeing these laws as outdated and discriminatory, David did something about it. He introduced the “JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013,” which aligned the District’s requirements with modern medical standards and implemented privacy protections for those seeking a new birth certificate.

Yes, there was a time when David Catania was a Republican. But our community stands for being true to ourselves, true to our beliefs and true to the values of acceptance and fairness.  David Catania’s decision to leave the Republican Party more than a decade ago when it was clear that it did not align with his core values and go on to serve as an independent member of the Council is the logical extension of that same ethic.

David Catania may not have a “D” after his name, but I would put his record up against anyone who does. While some have spent their time worrying about labels, David Catania has been busy putting the District of Columbia first.

John Klenert has been a D.C. resident since the Lyndon Johnson administration. He is a longtime member of the Stein Club and serves on the Victory Fund Campaign Board.

  • With all due respect to my long-time friend John Klenert the statement that “Catania stands up for “Democratic values” more than any other elected official in the District.” is nonsense. Catania was a Republican and the only reason he gave for switching parties was the Gay one. And by the way he did contribute to George Bush’s first campaign and did go to Texas to meet with him. Catania could have become a Democrat but clearly there were issues he had with the Democratic Platform and principles and instead took the politically expedient route and became an Independent so he wouldn’t have to give up the seat which he had won as a Republican. As far as I know Catania isn’t pro-union and is for school vouchers. One has no idea where he stands on a host of other issue because being an ‘Independent ‘ tells you nothing about what a persons beliefs or about their long term values. As to United Medial Center and Catania’s role in that there have now been two previous owners before he City was again forced to take over the hospital who bilked the City for money and/or didn’t live up to their committments and Catania was part of approving both of them. Then there is the roughly $2 million dollars Catania has eared working for law firms and others while working as a part-time Councilmember. It will be interesting to find out what they paid him for and how clients of the firms he worked for influenced his work and how much the clients and lawyers in those firms contributed to his campaigns over the years. He didn’t get paid that money for his charm. We won’t know who he will be running against till after April 1st but its pretty clear that any of them will easily match his “Democratic Values” and most likely easily surpass them. And as David has said he doesn’t expect people to vote for him simply because he I gay.

  • Cantania for Mayor.

  • Peter, puh-leeze put down that Gray hatchet! We get that you are a committed Democrat. That’s OK.

    But Mayor Shadow is so crooked he needs help screwing his socks on. You don’t need to be a Democrat helping Mayor Shadow do that. Nor does any other Dem.

    A Tommy Wells vs. David Catania matchup would be a noble, win-win campaign for LGBT residents and *ALL* DC voters for a change.

    Only one candidate in this primary never took money or benefitted from Jeffrey Thompson. ONLY ONE. Tommy Wells. Tommy Wells has taken no corporate money, no PAC money, no special interest money. That’s a really good Democratic Party alternative.

    C’mon! Jump in to Wells’ pool, Peter. The water is warm, it is crystal BLUE– and for sure it is a whole lot cleaner than that gray water they’ve let you splash around in.

  • Peter, are you suggesting that we vote for Vince Gray over David Catania, should Gray survive the primary? Democrat Uber Alles? Really?

  • And again our white gay brethren think they control DC. I understand how you guys feel about Gray. As for that scandal thing it’s crap because this US Attorney claiming they have the goods on him but in three years, no charges have been filed to serve that Vincent Gray is alleged to have done any wrong. What we have here is innuendo, released by a US Attorney at a very strategic moment, to discredit a Mayor who has championed the rights and welfare of the District’s most oppressed and disadvantaged citizens a group of folks you gays don’t think about but would rather have then Gentrified out of DC. This “news” is a cheap shot, made in the press and outside of a courtroom, to alter the outcome of an upcoming election. And this will also look strange to the African American this is playing out. And to add that Catania said that is Wells or Evans win he won’t run but if Gray or Bowser wins he will? How do you think African American voters interpreted that?

    Say what you will the arrogance of gays only will only hurt him (Catania) with the other voters! But I give him credit for running. This city is still predominately African American and David better get to work and quick. He isn’t and never was a progressive. He is a conservative in a progressive city. GOOD LUCK with that!

    • This white gay man, who has argued vehemently that gay voters should not vote for a candidate just because he or she is gay, would also have agreed with your points about the US Attorney’s abuse of power. Indeed, my partner and I supported Gray last time. But since I’m one of those “you gays” and you’re more interested in stoking black-versus-gay animus, you’re on your own.

      • And Stephen you’re ONE out of many. Sorry you’re offended and I am not stroking Black VS Gay animus. If you want to realize it or not. That is how it is always been here in DC. This is not imaginary. There is not much unity AT ALL in this community face value when you really look at things and I never said ALL WHITE GAYS!

        But to be very clear to remind you of something. When we had the special election not long ago where Anita Bonds won. Here the Blade they were calling Blacks democratic voters and everybody else was ‘progressive’? What’s the difference? And after she won. Many LGBTQ voters were unhappy calling her a racist and also to add many started claiming voter fraud and suggesting folks bring Major ID’s to the polls in Nov to make sure the voter lives in DC and not MD….SERIOUSLY????

        Back to the current topic everything these folks on here are writing about and concerned with is about THEM and not all of DC! And as far as me or ‘us’ (AA’s) being ON OUR OWN. I nor the African American voter isn’t concerned about being own our own after all in many ways WE ARE LOL! I just read on another post on where a reader commented and said. and I quote them.

        I’m Just Sayin’ March 21, 2014 at 8:44 pm
        Let’s get real here. The only way that a white Democrat is going to win the Mayoral primary in DC is if no black candidate is on the ballot or that there are so many black Democrats running that the voting block fractures.

        Get the picture my friend. So to Blacks get a lot of you to run and we (LGTBQ) all stand together on our side and win and YOU (Blacks) lose? whose stoking black-versus-gay animus there?

    • I also sincerely hope that someone who cites one gay candidate and one gay guest columnist as the foundation for attributing “arrogance” to all gays does not regard himself, in any sense of the word, as progressive, not with that gross stereotyping.

  • Peter: To paraphrase Colby King’s advice to Mayor Gray: Peter, my man, you’ve got to do way better than that.

  • Based on today’s City Paper poll there clearly is a race on in the Democratic primary and it looks like it is between Gray and Bowser. Wells appears to be out of it and it will be interesting to see if Evans can motivate enough people to come to the polls to catch up. Whoever wins it will be a long nasty seven months between April 1st and November 4th. It would be great if people who are or could be friends outside of politics can continue to focus their comments on the candidates who are running. We will all defend the candidates we support and write why we think those that are not the right person for the job shouldn’t be elected. I for one will not attack a person writing a column or comment but rather discuss the issue they are writing about. Again It is going to be a long nasty seven month campaign. It is my hope that whatever the outcome is the community won’t tear itself apart.

    Posted by Will Sommer on Mar. 21, 2014

    “The poll asked a question that echoed Gray’s rhetorical one at last week’s State of the District address: Who do you believe, Gray or Thompson? It found 48 percent of respondents believed Thompson’s version of the 2010 campaign was more accurate than Gray’s, compared to just 24 percent who believed Gray more than Thompson.”
    If this is what Mayor Shadow’s supporters think, imagine what the rest of the country will think of Vince Gray– as well as the voters of DC who kept him in office?

    The embarrassment and distraction Gray’s corruption and lies will bring to our city and the local Democratic Party for four years can only slow or block LGBT civil rights progress in DC.

    No good Democrat should be helping a lying and corrupt mayor of a great city. It is Obama, Holder and Machen Democrats should be holding in high esteem, not the lying corruption of Vince Gray.

  • BTW, there’s nothing surprising about Catania winning citywide elections for umpteen years. Good Democrats voting for a good, capable person explains it.

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