Former City Council staffer and Democratic Party activist Brandon Todd won the endorsement of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club on Monday in his race for the Ward 4 Council seat on the ballot in an April 28 special election.
Todd worked as constituent services director for former Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser (D) up until the time she announced her candidacy for mayor last year. Todd then became finance director of Bowser’s successful mayoral campaign.
He said he was honored to receive the Stein Club endorsement and pledged to follow Bowser’s lead as a strong and committed ally of the LGBT community.
Todd, 31, who is being backed by Bowser, captured the Stein Club’s endorsement with 83.7 percent of the votes cast by the 37 members who turned out for an endorsement forum. The forum was held at Busboys and Poets in Ward 4’s Takoma Park neighborhood.
Five of the other 11 candidates competing with Todd in the special election participated in the forum. Like Todd, each expressed strong support for LGBT rights.
But it became clear as Stein Club President Earl Fowlkes opened the forum that most of the club members attended, including at least three who work on Bowser’s mayoral staff, were supporting Todd.
Among them were Sheila Alexander-Reid, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs; Jim Slattery, director of the Mayor’s Correspondence Unit; and Christopher Dyer, special assistant to the director of the Mayor’s Office of Justice Grants Administration.
Todd received 31 votes. Community activist Renee Bowser, who is not related to Muriel Bowser, received 3 votes. Leon Andrews, an official with the National League of Cities, and Edwin Powell, a Howard University professor and former D.C. public schools principal, each received one vote.
Gwenellen Corley-Bowman, a retired teacher, and Acqunetta Anderson, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and community activist, received no votes. Fowlkes said one vote cast was disqualified.
Real estate attorney Dwayne Toliver, who has also expressed strong support for LGBT rights, showed up for the forum but was disqualified from participating because he failed to submit a required statement in advance of the event discussing his views on LGBT and other issues.
Toliver received the highest rating among Ward 4 candidates on LGBT related issues – a +7 by the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance. Powell received a 6.5 GLAA rating, with Todd receiving a rating of 5.5 by the group, which rates candidates on a scale of -10, the worst possible score, to +10.
Anderson received a +3 and Renee Bowser received a +2.5 GLAA rating. Corley-Bowman and Andrews received a “0” rating for not returning a required GLAA questionnaire that asked candidates about LGBT related issues.
The Stein Club’s forum on Monday follows another Stein forum held on March 24 in which the club endorsed community activist LaRuby May in her race for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat. That seat is also on the ballot in a special election on April 28. It became vacant following the death last November of Council member and former D.C. mayor Marion Barry.
Fowlkes said he was pleased that Todd won the club’s endorsement. According to Fowlkes and other club members, Todd has been credited with working closely with LGBT residents of Ward 4 for the more than five years he served as Bowser’s constituent services director on the D.C. Council.
With the support of Bowser, both Todd in Ward 4 and May in Ward 8 are far ahead of their rivals in campaign fundraising. Political observers have said many of the large donors to Bowser’s mayoral campaign have contributed money to May and Todd’s campaigns.
Gay activist and longtime Ward 4 resident Joe Martin said he thought Powell was the most articulate on LGBT issues among the candidates participating in the Stein Club forum on Monday. But he said he also recognizes Todd’s popularity in the ward and his advantage of having the “Democratic machine” behind him.