November 1, 2018 at 2:46 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Pro-LGBT incumbents far ahead in all but one D.C. election race
Dionne Reeder, gay news, Washington Blade, election

Lesbian businesswoman Dionne Reeder faces incumbent Elissa Silverman in next week’s election. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

With the exception of one of two at-large D.C. Council seats on the ballot this year, the city’s longstanding pro-LGBT incumbent politicians, including Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), are expected to breeze to victory in the District’s Nov. 6 general election.

Most political observers say the one exception to this pro-incumbent tidal wave is the at-large Council race in which lesbian businesswoman Dionne Reeder is challenging incumbent Council member Elissa Silverman. Both Reeder and Silverman are running as independents for a Council seat reserved under the city’s election law for a non-Democrat.

Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large) is considered the strong favorite to win re-election to the second so-called “Democratic” at-large seat up for election this year. Silverman is considered by some political observers to have the advantage over Reeder in name recognition due to the advantage of incumbency, but others, including Bowser, who has endorsed Reeder, say the first-time Council candidate has a shot at beating Silverman. (Full details on this race were reported in the Blade last week.)

In the mayoral race, Bowser, who has emerged as one of the city’s most LGBT supportive mayors, is considered the odds-on favorite to become the first D.C. mayor since 2002 to win a second term in office.

Bowser, a Democrat, easily won the city’s Democratic primary in June in a year when no candidate considered having a chance of winning surfaced to run against her.

One of three lesser known candidates running against Bowser on Nov. 6 is gay Libertarian Party activist Martin Moulton, a longtime local LGBT rights activist. Among the issues that Moulton has focused on is the troubled D.C. public school system, for which he blames Bowser for not taking a more aggressive stand to address.

Bowser and her supporters dispute that claim, saying she has been working hard to address public school system problems that have been around long before she became mayor.

In 2016, Moulton ran as a Libertarian for the D.C. Congressional Delegate seat held by Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton. Although Norton won by a lopsided margin with over 88 percent of the vote in a three-candidate race, Moulton received 18,713 votes, finishing ahead of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who received 12,723 votes in the D.C. presidential race.

In this year’s Congressional Delegate race, Norton is being challenged by another gay Libertarian candidate, Bruce Majors. Majors ran and lost to Norton for the Congressional Delegate seat in 2012, capturing 5.9 percent of the vote compared to Norton’s 88.6 percent. Majors ran for mayor as a Libertarian against Bowser in 2014, where he received 0.7 percent of the vote.

Others running against Norton in the Nov. 6 election are Statehood Green Party candidate Natale Stracuzzi, Republican Nelson Rimensnyder, and independent John Cheeks.

In the Ward 1 D.C. Council race, gay independent Jamie Sycamore, a professional sign language translator, is running an uphill race against Democratic incumbent Brianne Nadeau, a strong supporter of LGBT rights. Similar to Bowser and Norton, Nadeau is considered the strong favorite to win re-election.

In other citywide races, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) are also considered odds-on favorites to win re-election. Both are strong supporters of LGBT rights. Mendelson led the Council’s effort in 2009 along with then Council member David Catania to push through legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in the District several years before the Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality nationwide.

Mendelson is being challenged by Libertarian Ethan Bishop-Henchman and Racine is being challenged by Libertarian Joe Henchman.

Pro-LGBT incumbent Council members Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) are also expected to easily win re-election against lesser known opponents. Cheh’s opponent, independent candidate Petar Dimtchev, and Allen’s opponent, Republican Michael Bekesha, have reached out to LGBT voters with pro-LGBT platforms.

Members of the local D.C. chapter of the LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans have been campaigning for Bekesha, but the group has not officially endorsed Bekesha and the other two Republicans running in the D.C. election – Congressional Delegate candidate Rimensnyder and at-large Council candidate Chittams.

In two other citywide races, incumbent “shadow” U.S. Rep. Franklin Garcia is running unopposed and “shadow” U.S. Sen. Michael D. Brown is being challenged by Statehood Green Party candidate Eleanor Ory. Garcia and Brown have been longtime supporters of LGBT rights.

Fewer LGBT ANC candidates running in 2018

At least 18 openly LGBT candidates are running for Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats in six of the city’s eight wards in the Nov. 6 election, 12 fewer than the 30 known LGBT candidates who ran for ANC seats in 2016.

The Washington Blade attempts to keep track of LGBT people running for ANC seats. Activists familiar with ANC races say they believe far more LGBT candidates have run for those seats in 2016 and this year than those who have publicly disclosed their status as LGBT.

There are a total of 296 single member ANC seats that are part of 40 ANCs throughout the city. The ANCs were created as part of the city’s home rule charter in the 1970s as a unique “grassroots” arm of the D.C. government. They are unpaid positions with no legal authority to approve public policy other than provide advice to city agencies on local neighborhood issues such as parking, trash collection, real estate development, and the licensing of bars, restaurant and nightclubs.

Following is a list of this year’s known LGBT ANC candidates, most of whom are incumbents running unopposed in their single member districts, known as SMDs. Among them are Kent Boese, who ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 1 D.C. Council seat in the June Democratic primary; and Monika Nemeth, who would become the city’s first known transgender ANC member if she wins her race for the Ward 3 ANC 3F06 seat held by incumbent William Sittig.

High Heel Race, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayor Muriel Bowser is expected to sail to easy victory next week, becoming the first D.C. mayor since 1998 to win a second term. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ward 1

Kent Boese, 1A08 (unopposed)

James Turner, 1B09 (unopposed)

Rob Hudson, 1B11 (unopposed)

Ward 2

Nick Delle Donne, 2B04

Randy Downs, 2B05 (unopposed)

Mike Silverstein, 2B06 (unopposed)

Jason Forman, 2F01 (unopposed)

John Guggenmos, 2F02 (unopposed)

John Fanning, 2F04 (unopposed)

Kevin Sylvester, 2F07 (unopposed)

Ward 3

Lee Brian Reba, 3C01

Monika Nemeth, 3F06

Dan Bradfield, 3G06 (unopposed)

Ward 4

Aaron Polkey, 4D03 (unopposed)

Ward 6

Ron Collins, 6D03 (unopposed)

Andy Litsky, 6D04 (unopposed)

Roger Moffatt, 6D05

Alexander ‘Alex’ Padro, 6E01

Ward 7

Catherine Woods, 7C03 (unopposed)

Anthony Lorenzo Green, 7C04 (unopposed)

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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