In keeping with her policy of appointing new faces to the numerous city boards, commissions and advisory committees, Mayor Muriel Bowser since taking office in January has replaced nearly all members of the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee, according to sources familiar with the committee.
Among the mayor’s changes was the replacement of gay Democratic activists Earl Fowlkes and Barbara Helmick, who were appointed to the panel by Mayor Vincent Gray and served as chair and vice chair. Bowser named David Perez, former president of D.C.’s GLBT Latino History Project, as the new chair and National LGBTQ Task Force official Victoria Kirby York as vice chair.
Others named by Bowser include D.C. attorneys Glen Ackerman and Ruth Eisenberg, transgender activist Julius Agers, lesbian activist Letitia Gomez, LGBT seniors advocate Imani Woody and mayoral staffer and Brother Help Thyself President Jim Slattery.
Helmick said she and Fowlkes understand that the new mayor has the authority to appoint her own people to committees and other government bodies that were created to advise a sitting mayor.
“Earl and I were invited to step down and we did,” she said, noting that that message was delivered to them by Sheila Alexander-Reid, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs who oversees the advisory committee.
Shortly after replacing Fowlkes on the LGBTQ Advisory Committee, Bowser appointed him to the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, which required confirmation from the City Council. The Council quickly approved his nomination in July at which time he was sworn in as the Commission’s third openly LGBT member.