Transgender civic activist Monika Nemeth lost her race for a seat on Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3F in the city’s Cleveland Park neighborhood by a margin of six votes in a special election Tuesday night that drew an unusually low turnout of just 26 voters.
Nemeth, a former Realtor and current information systems engineer for the U.S. Navy, received 10 votes. Her opponent, civic activist and retired Library of Congress administrator Bill Sittig, received 16 votes.
The two candidates were competing for a vacant seat in ANC Single Member District 3F06, which includes upscale commercial and residential areas along and near Connecticut Avenue, N.W. from the University of the District of Columbia to Nebraska Ave., N.W.
The balloting took place at ANC 3F’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting held in one of the UDC’s auditoriums. Officials with the city’s Board of Elections presided over the voting, and an ANC commissioner announced the results just prior to the end of the meeting, which was live streamed on the ANC’s website.
Had Nemeth won the race she would have become D.C.’s first openly transgender person elected to public office.
In her campaign literature she focused on quality of life issues such as improving city services, keeping area parks and streets clean and well-maintained, and “supporting residents as they age in place.”
Wittig, who told the Washington Blade he is a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, said he also focused on local neighborhood issues. He said that he was unaware of Nemeth’s status as a transgender woman surfacing as an issue during the brief campaign.
Veteran LGBT rights activist Bob Summersgill, who is a former ANC 3F07 commissioner, said he did not think Nemeth’s gender identity would be a “big deal” among the mostly liberal residents in the section of Ward 3 that makes up ANC3F.
“In a turnout that low, everything hinges on personal relationships and who you can get to come to a meeting” to vote, he told the Blade.
“Other factors that might have sway in a larger election don’t really exist here,” he said. “I don’t think you can draw any conclusions from 26 people voting.”
Nemeth called the turnout “pitiful,” saying “there’s always next time.”
Two weeks before the ANC election Nemeth won election as secretary for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest local LGBT political organization.