I was a supporter of Vince Gray and was highly disappointed that the Democratic primary campaign had very little to do with the issues facing our city. It was a unique election in that an overwhelming majority of people felt that the city was being run well and things were headed in the right direction, approved of the job the mayor was doing, yet voted him out of office by a large margin.
For many LGBT supporters of Mayor Gray and the other mayoral candidates, we are now faced with choosing between loyalty to the Democratic Party or deciding which candidate to support in the General Election based on the issues, experience and qualifications.
My involvement with the Democratic Party began nearly 30 years ago and I have worked to elect Democrats for that entire time. The possibility of not supporting a Democratic nominee is something I do not approach lightly.
I supported Gray for re-election as mayor because he had a solid record of accomplishment on a broad set of issues that I cared about. He was also accessible to the LGBT community, including the trans community, which has often been shut out in the past.
As I look at the choice between David Catania and Muriel Bowser, the decision comes down to the same reasons I supported Gray. One candidate has a solid history of accomplishment as a member of the D.C. Council and the other does not. One candidate has demonstrated a solid understanding of how to improve government and the other has not. One candidate makes it clear where he stands on issues and the other does not. One candidate can rattle off a list of accomplishments and the other cannot.
The argument against David Catania is pretty much summed up by “he used to be a Republican.” That’s a pretty weak argument when you consider that he left the party 10 years ago. When you add that with his work to expand health insurance to a higher percentage of people than any other state, his support of the transgender community, his work on marriage equality, his work on HIV/AIDS and his work to improve education, I think critics making that argument are hugely underestimating the intelligence of D.C. voters who are looking for someone who can continue the progress we’ve made.
Catania has long been a voice for change and progress in D.C. From his at-large seat on Council and committee chairmanships, he has brought professionalism and structure to the agencies he has overseen. He has been the architect of countless deals among his Council colleagues. He has also been able to bring opposing sides of an issue together when no one else could.
Since he was first elected to Council in 1997 at the young age of 29, the people of D.C. have watched him grow in office and become one of the most effective and highly regarded members of the Council.
It is because of all of these reasons that I have decided to go outside of my loyalty to the Democratic Party and choose to support the candidate that is far more qualified to lead our city, Councilman David Catania. This is a decision I have put much thought into and am comfortable with.
Over the next seven months leading up to the election, I hope people will insist that this election will be about issues and qualifications. Our city is on the cusp of even greater change than we have already seen and this election may very well determine the direction that we will take. It will certainly determine the next mayor to preside over it and make the tough decisions that will come along with holding the office.
If you look at the issues and the candidates, I am confident that David Catania will offer you the most substance by far. Don’t be bullied into voting for an unqualified Democrat just because of a party label. Our city deserves better from its voters.