September 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm EDT | by Peter Rosenstein
Why I support Muriel Bowser for mayor
Muriel Bowser, gay news, Washington Blade

Muriel Bowser has said she is committed to hiring a cabinet that will function under strict ethics rules. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As an out and proud gay man, the choice to support someone other than the gay man running for D.C. mayor was not a decision made lightly. It was, however, made easier because of the many values shared with his Democratic opponent.

Not since 1994 has there been a real contested mayoral election in the District of Columbia. At that time, my support went to Carol Schwartz and I helped write her platform. This time after looking closely at the candidates my vote will go to Muriel Bowser on Nov. 4. She is the right person to be mayor at this time in the District’s history.

Many friends ask what difference it makes. Isn’t politics just a dirty business? My response to that is a resounding no. Because of the work of good public servants, and many deeply committed activists in our community, the District has continued to move forward and improve. We are headed in the right direction since Anthony Williams was elected mayor in 1998. Williams upgraded city services, bringing agency operations into the technological age. Adrian Fenty built on what Williams did and moved education reform to the front burner.

Mayor Gray built on what Williams and Fenty began and rebuilt our reserve fund to record levels. His administration, with Chancellor Kaya Henderson, has made good progress in continuing education reform and our students have shown marked progress. Gray focused on rebuilding local education opportunities for students with disabilities. Today the District is in the best financial condition it has seen. Services are being delivered on time and efficiently. Our streets are clean and business is booming. People continue to move into the District at the rate of about 1,000 a month and we are on everyone’s top-10 list — from ‘hippest’ city to the best place for college grads to move to healthiest city to best sustainable energy plans, to name just a few.

So what we need in our next mayor is someone who will work to continue the progress we have made, provide stability, have a commitment to running an ethical government and ensure that all our neighbors can share in the District’s progress. What we don’t need is someone who castigates people in public hearings or grabs a quick headline, often without follow through. We need someone who understands how to work with all people, whether or not they agree with her; someone who after four years in the mayor’s office will be able to say, “We have continued to build our city and now it works better for everyone.” That candidate is Muriel Bowser.

Muriel understands our city as only a fifth generation Washingtonian can. She knows it still doesn’t work for everyone and grabbing headlines with a public hearing isn’t always the best way to help. Sometimes it’s working behind the scenes and getting government to work the way it is supposed to for the people. There are parts of our city that have been left out of the economic boom and many people still feel marginalized. In our booming metropolis there are people who are starving and homeless; many are illiterate. We need a mayor who will do the hard work and get government to focus on them — a mayor who has lived her entire life in the District supporting the principles of sharing and community involvement and who understands we can make a difference by bringing people together. That is Muriel Bowser.

The principles of community involvement and participation she lives were ingrained in Muriel by parents who believed in them and the principles of the Democratic Party. Her parents taught her to believe in equality for all; that working people deserve a chance to get ahead and earn their way into the middle class. That everyone should have a chance for the American dream and to reach their full potential, whatever that is. They taught her unions were there to help protect workers’ rights and that we all owe something to the community for what we are given.

She understood early that the principles espoused by the Republican Party weren’t hers,  unlike her opponent, David Catania, who apparently only understood that when it became personal. As an adult and a Republican elected official he proudly called himself a ‘maverick’ and supported George W. Bush for president. The term didn’t describe someone being ‘independent,’ rather it meant he was in lock-step with the Republican Party raising more than $150,000 to help bring us the Bush/Cheney years.

I met Muriel when she first ran for Council and found out how smart, committed to public service and improving people’s lives she is. She has shown the depth of her understanding of government and our city. She knows how difficult it is to bring people together. She worked to pass the first real ethics bill in the Council when five of her colleagues introduced their own bills. It isn’t like passing a bill that most of your colleagues sign onto before hearings are even held as her opponent often did. She has the ability to work with communities across our city who don’t always agree on the right way to govern or even what they want from government. It means not working with developers on a plan and then bringing it to communities to endorse but rather doing what she is doing at the Walter Reed site in Ward 4 and setting up an advisory committee to see what neighbors want and then taking that to developers to see who could deliver it.

It is working from the bottom up, not the top down like David Catania likes to do. What he did with his recent education bills when he paid a law firm with money he raised from rich friends to write bills and then went to the community for comments. Chastising many in the process, including the chancellor, who suggested it would have been prudent to come to them before writing the legislation. But that wasn’t the way to grab a headline and not the way Catania likes to work.

When Muriel was elected to the Council she understood it was officially a part-time job but she took it as full time. Her achievements may not have had her author as many bills as her opponent but she achieved the goal of making government work more efficiently for her constituents and they rewarded her by re-electing her twice. Catania took the part-time part of his Council job seriously and has earned in the neighborhood of $2 million working for law firms and even a business that contracts with the District while serving as a Council member. He has always had more than one boss while working for the people of the District while Muriel’s only bosses are the people who elect her.

Recently, when workers from a local construction company, Baker D.C., approached the Council to ask it to sign a letter to their company asking them to meet and negotiate with workers, Catania was the only Council member who refused to sign. It was a stark reminder of where Catania really stands on issues. As reported in the Washington Post, “Catania has had a long relationship with the construction industry, most prominently by working as a vice president for non-union electrical contractor M.C. Dean until 2012. His political campaigns have enjoyed the support of firms active with Associated Builders and Contractors, a trade group that has opposed ‘project labor agreements’ and other union-friendly measures.”

When questioned about not signing the letter Catania said, “I didn’t see the evidence of management frustrating the rights of workers.” So Catania took management’s side, which seems to be what his natural Republican tendencies dictate. He has also voted against sick leave for workers.

Many believe the two most important positions in the mayor’s cabinet are that of police chief and schools chancellor. Muriel has made a commitment to retain those currently in the jobs — Cathy Lanier at the MPD and Kaya Henderson at DCPS. She has spoken with them, asked them to stay and they have agreed to do so and work with her. If we are to continue to move forward on school reform, which is one of the main planks of Muriel’s platform, she understands that stability and continuity at DCPS are crucial. She also understands that people in different parts of the District view our police differently and is committed to working with Chief Lanier to have every resident in this city trust in the MPD. On the other hand, Catania has not said if he would reappoint either of them.

What we don’t need is a wholesale shake-up of government. The worst thing is leaving people and businesses with a feeling of instability. Whether it is the business community, parents, or those 1,000 people a month moving here, they want to know that the progress we have made will continue at a reliable and steady pace. Muriel has said she isn’t afraid to shake things up when that is the only way to make progress and in the case of Fire/EMS she is committed to doing that. But she has also spoken out about the progress we have made under Mayors Anthony Williams, Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray and is committed to continuing that progress in an orderly and efficient way.

With Muriel we get a mayor who is ethically beyond reproach even though Catania will try anything to get you to believe otherwise. After 16 years on the Council, Catania is as tied to the power structure in the District as anyone else in office.

An example of Catania being comfortable with businesses being involved in local politics and making contributions to impact voting outcomes occurred during the time he worked for an M.C. Dean subsidiary — the same M.C. Dean that paid him $240,000 a year until he left that job when considering a run for mayor. A letter in the Loudoun Times and a column in the Washington Post outlined the following, “From 2005 to 2011 he worked as in-house Counsel for their subsidiary OpenBand, LLC, which operates broadband communications networks. At the time his Chief of staff also took a job with OpenBand, LLC. Both were there when M.C. Dean, of which OpenBand, LLC is a subsidiary, and its executives gave more than $35,000 in contributions to candidates vying for seats on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors according to Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) records. Records show that tens of thousands more have gone to General Assembly candidates and political action committees, supporting candidates who could vote on contracts for either M.C. Dean or OpenBand, LLC.”

Then the Washington City Paper in 2008 reported that while Catania was on the D.C. Council and working quietly to help Patrick Mara defeat fellow Council member Carol Schwartz, (full disclosure: I supported Mara), “his employer was also raising money for Patrick Mara and was one of the prime funders of the Citizens for Empowerment PAC that sent out Schwartz attack mailers.”

When Catania doubled his salary at M.C. Dean in 2011 one of the first things he had to do after taking that job was to recuse himself from the vote on the Electrician’s Equality Act of 2011 passed by the D.C. Council when he should have been able to speak out on the bill and cast a vote to represent the constituents that elected him. This is a clear example of why having an outside job, especially with a company that has a contract with the District, is wrong.

Muriel is committed to hiring a cabinet that will function under strict ethics rules and will issue an executive order to see that all city workers understand their roles and pledge to serve the people ethically.

With Muriel we get a mayor who can work with the people in every ward and who respects everyone. She won’t denigrate or talk down to those who may disagree with her. We need a mayor who understands both the old and new Washington and has the ability to bring them together. Muriel Bowser will be that mayor.

Then there are both the tangibles and intangibles that come with electing a Democrat. While it isn’t my main reason for supporting Muriel it definitely went into my decision process. At a recent fundraiser for John Tierney (D-Mass.) my good friend, former Congressman Barney Frank said it best, “Being a Democrat means standing for something.” It means working for and with people. It means working toward immigration reform; LGBT civil and human rights; and the right for women to have equal pay, full equality and control of their own bodies. It means supporting workers and unions and building the middle class. It means demanding that all people have the right to vote. While clearly not all these issues are directly related to running the District government, having a Democrat as the mayor of our nation’s capital says to people in no uncertain terms, these are the things the people of the District stand for. It also calls into question which principles of the Democratic Party David Catania is so uncomfortable with. A recent Washington Post column reported that when asked why he became an independent and not a Democrat after leaving the Republican Party, he responded, “I have been in one bad marriage and I’m not about to jump into another.”

There is another way in which electing Bowser could benefit our city and the nation. Many believe in 2016 we will elect our first woman president, a Democrat, Hillary Rodham Clinton. To the District it could mean that our next mayor, Bowser, can play a direct role in making that happen. She will be a super-delegate to the Democratic National Convention and can cast her vote for Hillary. As a young woman she will be able to speak out not only for equality in our city, but for making the nation a place where everyone has an equal chance to get ahead. Muriel Bowser will have access to power and the better ability to make the case for the people of the District for independence. She will work closely with our champion on the Hill, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, to move the issues of the District forward. Muriel will have access that no Republican or independent could ever have.

For so many reasons I urge everyone to cast their ballot for Muriel Bowser for mayor on Nov. 4.

19 Comments
  • Peter, you should disclose that you have supported David both politically and financially in the past several times while you engage in bashing him. How do you frame that with what you are saying now?

    • Doesn’t that make his choice more credible?

      • I could call his credibility into question. If he supported Catania in the past, but now he is awful, then what does it say about his past judgment?

        • It says he can vote for whomevver he chooses! That’s what it says. Everybody isn’t voting for Catania because you and other gays think HE DID ALL THOSE ACCOMPLISHMENTS alone????He didn’t. Or or because he’s gay! But that’s not my issue with him.

        • “She also understands that people in different parts of the District view our police differently and is committed to working with Chief Lanier to have every resident in this city trust in the MPD. ”
          -Peter Rosenstein
          =============================
          Speaking of Peter’s judgment…
           
          Citing Bowser as being “committed to work with Chief Lanier” is more akin to a threat to LGBTs’ (and the whole city’s) public safety than a campaign promise.
           
          Also, apparently, Peter thinks DC’s chief of police is the boss of all of us, including our DC Mayor and Council. Peter needs a basic civics lesson in the pecking order of public servants of free people.
           
          Moreover, regarding LGBT issues, does Peter forget that one of Chief Lanier’s first initiatives in 2007 when hired by Bowser’s crony mentor, Adrian Fenty, was to try to abolish MPD’s award-winning Community Policing example, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU/”glue”)? For seven years since then, we have read news of many repeated attempts by Lanier and Groomes to weaken, attrit and reassign GLLU cops to non-GLLU activities.
           
          That was the same Adrian Fenty, BTW, who paid a lot of lip service to LGBT affairs, but never even consulted with now-Bowser supporter Chris Dyer after Fenty appointed him director of DC’s Office of GLBT Affairs.
           
          Then there is Lanier’s penchant for crime stats half truths. For all of her time as police chief, Lanier has steadfastly refused to report the number of anti-LGBT hate crimes that have been closed with an arrest. Why? The number would reveal how many violent anti-LGBT hate crimes Lanier’s MPD has failed to solve.
           
          Seriously, why would any savvy LGBTQ voter in DC want Lanier — with her long anti-LGBT record — reappointed by Bowser to continue the degrading and anti-LGBT politicization of MPD?

  • By now, every Blade reader knows that Peter Rosenstein has a high level of contempt for David Catania. It pretty much makes up the bulk of every piece he writes regarding the upcoming Mayoral campaign. How difficult is it to put together a a thousand plus words on why Bowser should be elected on her merits and capabilities alone without bashing Catania? Apparently, very. This editorial is neither surprising nor does it make a compelling case for electing Bowser as much as it pleads with readers to not elect a meanie like David Catania. Perhaps Rosenstein needed to atone for his January 2014 Blade editorial going all in for Vince Gray, dismissing Bowser and the other democrat mayoral candidates as wannabes, when he opined: “None of the mayor’s challengers has the administrative background to indicate they could administer the city government. At most they have run small office staffs and in one case run a small chain of restaurants, which is very different from administering a city with a budget of more than $10 billion.” So where’d Bowser gain this critical experience in 8 months Peter? The management office of Park Southern?

  • How very disappointing to see Peter treat Blade readers with such contempt by opening his screed with a lie.

    We all know that Peter hasn't made any careful choice in this race. As a longtime pitchman for the Democratic Party, Peter has been prepared to shill for its nominee since before the nominee was even selected. Behind all the rote talking points, Peter's only real message here is that [Fill in the Blank] would be a Democratic mayor. Had the Party gone to the National Zoo and nominated a wallaby, Peter would be here now hawking the managerial magnificence of marsupials. It's what partisan pitchmen do.

    So let's not take Peter's snake oil too seriously here. Had the primary been won by the candidate he really wanted, Peter would be here shilling for Vincent Gray. Or had it been won by Jack Evans, Peter would be shilling for him instead. If Tommy Wells had prevailed? Peter would be devout Wellsman. Indeed, consider this: Had David Catania himself entered and won the Democratic primary, Peter would be here right now shilling for Catania. The digs would suddenly be virtues. So it is with partisan pitchmen.

    But since it wasn't Gray or Catania but Bowser who happened to win the primary, Peter is here to shill for her, as if a bare plurality in a low-turnout primary is some kind of Excalibur. But Peter's sales pitch is way too stark. Does he think that relentlessly promoting one candidate while relentlessly deriding the other reflects a painstaking choice? When literally the only positive thing one can say about Catania is that he's gay, it's pretty clear that one isn't making any real choice at all. One is just spinning for the Party.

    How Log Cabin of Peter.

    • You make an excellent point Steve. It would be disingenuous of Mr. Rosenstein to suggest that he would not have supported any of the possible democratic nominees regardless of the outcome of the primary as he has pretty much chastised DC’s LGBT electorate for even considering the candidacy of David Catania. He will however, try to deflect accusations of partisanship with tales of how he supported the republican Mayoral nominee, Carol Schwartz, back in 1994 as evidence of his open-mindedness. Yet what he generally fails to mention when recounting that story is that the Democratic nominee that year was the convicted felon — Marion Barry. What we have here is an op-ed author who other than under extreme duress promotes party. It renders his pieces meaningless other than as fuel for the likeminded. The Blade needs to put Rosenstein on the bench for this election and get someone to make the case for Bowser without mentioning Catania and likewise for Catania without mentioning Bowser. Discuss their positions, tangible accomplishments, recount their years on Council matching actions with words. Emotion based pieces like the one Rosenstein wrote take very little effort and just fill column inches.

      • Y’all queens are out to lunch without a sandwich! Ya’ll are shilling for Catania because He’s GAY and He’s WHITE! PERIOD! We get it your tired of Democrats running DC or Black ones anyway. But you all will be the first one in line to vote for Hillary Clinton. Peter can say what he wants at least he’s openly honest about who he supports Dems shrill or not. Well why hasn’t this glorious Councilman AT LARGE done anything about affordable housing? Because the tea leaves just spilled tea about folks in SE are being given vouchers to move to Charles Cty MD (Waldorf) for affordable housing. MARYLAND why not DC? Well all these accomplishments this seems to be one HE HAS FAILED and always did. That’s why he makes those damn deals with developers ahhh good ol’ Gentrification.The working class who are still the majority voters in the city and NOT the LGBTQ Community will not appreciate this once they all find out. Also he trashed Gray over the ‘alleged’ misdoings that this FAILURE of an Atty General has not brought charges and more than likely won’t that has helped David a lot in this case! And as far as this independent crap, he is only that because of the GOP’s ignorance to acceptance of SSM. Not to anything else so he still very much have conservative principles. NO MA’AM as the Mayor he would definitely look out for ther gays and that Gentrification crowd but that other crowd if they’re passing vouchers to go to Maryland????? HMMMMMMMM Nah I’ll pass on Catania!

        • Addressing the affordable housing issue you bring up. Muriel Bowser chairs the committee responsible for affordable housing issues. It is she that has dropped the ball and done nothing to help. In fact, she has stood in the way of progress by refusing to allow affordable housing in a neighborhood in Ward 4. Not to mention by trying to protect her political supporters who ran Park Southern, where $1.6 Million has gone missing, Bowser has put over 300 low income housing units at risk.

          Meanwhile, David intervened to save around 300 low income housing units near Chinatown when a developer was trying to hose the residents.

          • And as for the vouchers??? You didn’t address that. No where in my post I said I supported Muriel but I don’t support David! AND THAT IS MY CHOICE! So why are you coming at me attacking Muriel? LOL

        • Yes, those queens are shilling for David Catania just because he’s gay and he’s white, period, which is why Bruce Majors gets so much press.

          • Queen? Hardly, but thanks for the compliment. You miss the point Mr. Edmondson. The Editorial is titled: “Why I Support Murial Bowser for Mayor” yet it’s essentially a screed on why Peter Rosenstein does not support David Catania for Mayor. If Rosenstein can’t opine on topic, then the Blade needs to find someone who can, if it plans to continue filling space with political commentary related to the upcoming DC city elections. Thus far, Rosenstein has shown himself incapable of keeping his emotions in check long enough to do justice to his avowed choice for Mayor let alone serve the needs of Blade readers.

          • Surely U Jest:

            It is not I who have missed the point. If you go back and read through the comments, you’ll see the one to which I responded.

  • I think it’s time for Peter Rosenstein to retire. He either has Alzheimer’s or Amnesia.

    Here is he wrote about Muriel less than 8 months ago: “None of the mayor’s challengers has the administrative background to indicate they could administer the city government. At most they have run small office staffs and in one case run a small chain of restaurants, which is very different from administering a city with a budget of more than $10 billion” (See for yourself @ https://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/01/29/support-vincent-gray-mayor/)

  • I sincerely hope that between now and election day, Rosenstein can come up with various other topics to discuss other than Muriel Bowser.

    Since I’ve decided I like none of the people running for mayor, I most likely will write in someone I think is worthwhile. (Yeah, it’s a throw-away; but I cannot in good conscience support any of the official candidates.)

  • My dog has more sense than Rosentstein.

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