October 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm EDT | by Lane Hudson
How I moved from backing Gray to Catania
David Catania, Vincent Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

Council member David Catania, on left, and Vincent Gray. (Washington Blade file photos by Michael Key)

During the Democratic primary, I was an outspoken supporter of Mayor Vince Gray. Now, I am an avid supporter of David Catania. It has come to my attention that some people don’t understand how or why someone could go from supporting one candidate to the other so quickly.

Since my days of working with DC for Marriage, I had gotten to know Gray very well and developed a great respect and friendship with him. As early as 2009, I began urging him to run for mayor against then-incumbent Adrian Fenty.

During his tenure as mayor, I was initially concerned about the allegations of illegal campaign finance activity during the 2010 campaign. I spent a great deal of time talking with others who were involved, trying to make sense of it all. Eventually, I came to decide that I would believe what Mayor Gray had to say.

Most voters in the April 1 primary did not arrive at the same conclusion and he was defeated by Muriel Bowser. Over the next few days, I worked through my options for the forthcoming general election campaign for mayor: stay out of it, support David Catania or support the Democratic nominee, Bowser.

Muriel and I met when she was running for Council in 2006. She was nice enough and seemed well put together. At the time, the dominance of the Fenty Green Machine made her election a foregone conclusion and I didn’t actually put much thought into it. The experiences I have had with her since have varied, leaving me with a less than impressive impression.

During the debate of whether to introduce a marriage bill, I got to know Catania quite well. I found him to be politically savvy, frank and honest, thoughtful and talented at bringing people of differing opinions together to agree on a common approach. He wasn’t as warm and fuzzy as Vince Gray, but neither was Muriel.

Then I considered their records. Bowser was not known as being a savvy legislator on Council. Catania, on the other hand, was known to be a prolific legislator who was involved in many big issues.

In a Blade editorial in May, I applied the same rationale for why I supported Vince Gray in deciding to support David Catania:

“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 Catania and 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.”

In personal conversations, I learned that Catania also has a solid record of supporting D.C.’s transgender community and remains committed to that should he become mayor.  That was important to me because of the connection that Mayor Gray has built with our trans community.

While some may feel like it was a big jump to go from avidly supporting Mayor Gray to doing the same for Catania, I don’t agree. Their personalities are incredibly different, but their dedication to the District and their ability to get things done are quite similar. Those are the things that I care about in a mayor and that is why my choice was easy.

Lane Hudson is a D.C.-based writer and activist.

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