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Patrick Kennedy for Ward 2 Council member

A strong record of working with every sector of the community

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Patrick Kennedy, gay news, Washington Blade
Patrick Kennedy (Photo courtesy of the Patrick Kennedy for Ward 2 Campaign)

As a Ward 2 resident for more than 35 years, I have had only two people represent me on the D.C. Council. The first, John A. Wilson, had the D.C. government building named after him. The second, Jack Evans, was forced out of office for improprieties. On June 2 in the Democratic primary and June 16 in the special election for Ward 2, voters have the opportunity to choose a third representative. We need to elect someone who will make us proud.

One person stands out among a group of qualified candidates. His relevant experience at the ward and community level, and his living by a set of steadfast progressive and honest principles, make Patrick Kennedy that candidate. He recently said: “In these difficult days I am committed to serving the residents of Ward 2 in an honest and transparent way to meet all their needs. I am committed to helping as we weave our way through tough times with a special focus on the economic and health inequities that have been highlighted due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Together we will not only survive we will thrive. The Council will be my full-time job and the only people I will owe anything to are the residents of Ward 2. As new issues arise you have my commitment to work on each one to the best of my ability and to meet and exceed your expectations.”

Ward 2 is a dynamic part of the District and includes a diverse group of stakeholders, including a large part of the District’s business community. Balancing the needs of business with the needs of individuals is not always easy but must be the goal of the Council member representing the ward. Patrick has community and ward experience, including eight years on the ANC, being chair for five terms. Relevant experience is based on what the job of a Ward Council member is. The job includes oversight of D.C. government agencies; approval of the D.C. budget; and just as important the ability to provide good constituent service to the residents of the ward. Being chair of an ANC gave Patrick a detailed understanding of D.C. government agencies and how they relate to both individuals and the community. A Council member must have knowledge of zoning, local education issues, transportation issues, and know how the programs of D.C. government from DDOT, to DOES, to DCRA, the bane of everyone’s existence, work. It means getting into the weeds on rat (the four legged kind) abatement and knowing how to help a constituent get a street lamp fixed. It is why experience on an ANC is so relevant to the job.

Another reason I am endorsing Kennedy is my belief it is crucial for our city that young people become involved and take leadership roles. When they do, we must support them. Kennedy represents the best of the young generation of the District. For 10 years he has spent countless hours as an ANC volunteer member and chair working for the people of the ward and the city. He sees himself as a bridge-builder, someone who understands the needs and interests of different communities and he has shown he is able to collaborate with a wide range of people with varied interests and forge consensus and come up with solutions to problems. I found he has a nuanced understanding of public policy and has shown empathy and understanding of people from all different backgrounds and perspectives.

Ward 2 has the largest number of people who identify with the LGBTQ+ community in the District and while Patrick is not gay his work for — and vocal support of — the community has attracted many activists to his campaign. He has committed to have the city do a much better job of providing equity-based initiatives, which will impact the LGBTQ community. He supports improving hiring practices for trans people in the D.C. government. He is committed to focusing on improving job training programs ensuring they include trans women of color whose unemployment rate was as high as 40 percent before COVID-19. He will fight for more investment in transitional housing for homeless LGBTQ youth and delivering housing resources specifically geared to the needs of LGBTQ seniors. He said, “It is crucial to not just see housing programs as services LGBTQ seniors can access, but rather to craft the services themselves around the needs of those who live alone and are at risk of social isolation. It is clear not all housing providers are culturally competent or welcoming.”

Kennedy has a history of success. He helped save the Francis-Stevens school, which is now thriving, and he worked on projects with George Washington University and with colleagues and DDOT laying the groundwork for consensus on a protected bike lane between Foggy Bottom and Dupont. His private sector experience includes working for a company helping Fortune 500 companies on their Corporate Social Responsibility budgets. His research had a focus on using SEC filings to evaluate a firm’s financial positions, market opportunities, and risks. In his current position with a small management consulting firm (he is on leave during the campaign) his work includes reviewing budgets and evaluating the competitive bid process including staffing and expense projections, all of which stand him in good stead when he becomes the next Ward 2 Council member.

Kennedy is committed to working with the Council, our delegate to Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton, and the mayor to press the Congress and the administration for D.C.’s full share of federal funding, including Coronavirus relief. He is a strong advocate for public education. Progress in the schools is nowhere more evident than in Ward 2 with an increasing demand for our public schools; not just from families staying and raising their children in the Ward, but from families across the city. He understands the momentum we’ve seen in the early grades hasn’t translated reliably to middle schools. He said, “In Ward 2 we must help families with children at Hyde-Addison stay in the system at Hardy and create a new Shaw Middle School with programming aligned to the thriving elementary schools that would feed it.” Kennedy commits to working to reduce childcare costs and prioritizing funding for Birth-to-3 programs. He understands doing both will make a meaningful difference in reducing the achievement gap in education by providing high-quality early learning opportunities to every child during the most important stage of their cognitive development.

He has committed to focusing on the production of more affordable housing. He said, “I support the mayor’s plan to encourage the production of more residential units across the city, enhance rent control protections for long-term tenants by gradually enrolling buildings built after 1975 into rent stabilization, and reforming our property tax structure to ensure that assessments align more cleanly with people’s ability to pay.”

He is committed to creating new dedicated bus lanes to improve service and ensure stable, fast commute times and investing in more off-peak service. He is a proponent of more dynamic street design, including more dedicated pick-up and drop-off areas on commercial corridors; expanding parking corrals for dockless bikes and scooters to get them off sidewalks; and enhancing the District’s network of protected bike lanes (coupled with enforcement of standards around sidewalk biking) so people have safe places to bike and pedestrians don’t feel unsafe on sidewalks.

In the aftermath of the recent Ward 2 Council member’s scandals we need a Council member who is a known commodity in the community, someone with a strong record of helping and working with every sector of the community. Someone people already know and trust. Someone the Washington Post said is “qualified and has a good agenda” for moving us forward. That person is Patrick Kennedy and I urge you to cast your ballot for him in the June 2 Democratic primary and the June 16 special election.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Opinions

Trump family had a tough week — may it only be the beginning

Let’s hope he’s headed to prison instead of back to White House

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Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump and Donald Trump in happier times in 2016 at the ribbon-cutting of the Washington, D.C. Trump Hotel, now the Waldorf Astoria. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

For the first time I actually think Donald Trump and his family may get what they deserve. They have been screwing the country for so long it seemed no one could get to them. Donald Trump is like a mafia don, with his family, and others like Rudy Giuliani, being his soldiers. Like many mafia don’s we have seen, while not going down for the deaths he caused, he will likely go down for his financial shenanigans.

As reported in the Washington Post, “The legal dangers facing former president Donald Trump rose this week, after the New York attorney general filed a fraud lawsuit that could effectively shutter the Trump Organization and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit allowed federal investigators to continue their probe into classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.” In addition, “other setbacks for Trump come as at least a half-dozen additional legal efforts proceed against him and his allies. Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed dozens of his former advisers, and many others, as part of a sprawling investigation into efforts to obstruct the transfer of power after the 2020 election. Separately, a Georgia grand jury has been looking at allegations that he tried to obstruct that state’s electoral count by pressuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn the election.” 

While the New York State investigation is civil, New York AG Letitia James has referred her findings to the Manhattan DA, to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, as well as to the IRS, for possible criminal proceedings. Many of us are keeping our fingers crossed one of these many investigations will finally see Donald Trump where he belongs; not in the White House, but as a more permanent resident in other federal housing, a jail cell. 

While it is important to hold Trump and his acolytes accountable for all the legal issues, we must also hold him responsible for the cultural wars he inspired and promoted. We have always known there are racists, homophobes, transphobes, sexists and misogynists in our midst. However, through hard work and many years of progress, we had seemingly reached a time in this country when people who harbored those hideous feelings couldn’t stand openly in the public square and voice them, no less act on them, without repercussions. The four years of Trump’s presidency changed that. What he did through his words and actions gave people tacit permission to spout these thoughts and even to act on them. He did this because people understood he was all of those things himself, and in most instances never really tried to hide it. He openly courted and defended white nationalists and neo-Nazis. He bragged about mistreating women. Because of Trump many members of minority groups including the LGBTQ community, African Americans, Asians and women have actually lost their lives to violence. If not losing their lives, many lost the chance to live their lives openly, freely and in safety. With all his misguided policies, lies and obfuscations, it is the cultural wars he unleashed that will take the longest, maybe decades, to counter.

We once had two relatively sane political parties, both advocating differing policies but both standing up for democracy. They seemed to understand our government was founded on the need for compromise to move forward their particular ideas. I may have disagreed with most Republican policies, and their national platforms, but I knew that if they won the Congress and the presidency, I could still fight another day to have Democrats win the next time and change the direction of the country more to my liking. But either way our democracy was going to stand. Today, if Republicans take over, I am not so sure of that.

Yet for some reason I still have confidence in most of the American people. I believe they will fight for our democracy by voting this November to give the Democrats continued control of Congress. By doing so they will let us continue to work to shore up our democracy and to make progress on issues from climate change, to immigration, updating our tax code, and ensuring no person in our country goes without a roof over their head, food in their stomach, and adequate healthcare. I believe we can defeat both Trump and Trumpism if we can convince enough people the road to a better life for them, their children, and grandchildren, is to reject Trump’s evil and defend our democracy.  

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Kenyan McDuffie for D.C. Council-at-Large

A voice of reason and progress in city government

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D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5). (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Kenyan McDuffie is a voice of reason, and a voice for progress, on the D.C. Council. He has been a voice for those without one, and for minority communities across the District. 

Kenyan is a fourth-generation Washingtonian raised in a working-class family of six. He attended Shaed Elementary in Edgewood, St. Anthony Grade School in Brookland, and graduated from Woodrow Wilson Jackson-Reed high school, having played varsity basketball. He has been a union member working as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. His college career began at the University of the District of Columbia, which he continues to strongly support. He transferred and graduated summa cum laude from Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Community Development and then joined the staff of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. He left there to attend the University of Maryland School of Law, where he was an editor of the law school’s Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class. 

After law school he clerked for an associate judge on the 7th Judicial Circuit of Maryland and then became an Assistant State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County. He then joined the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where, as a trial attorney, he enforced key federal civil rights laws in cases throughout the country. His caseload at the DOJ included defending the civil rights of the mentally ill, nursing home residents, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations.

At that point in his career, Kenyan added community activist to his resume becoming president of his local civic association and taking a job as a policy adviser with the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice. In that position he worked with Council members to shape policy and legislation for the District of Columbia.

In 2012, with this wealth of experience, he was elected to the D.C. Council. At that time Lateefah Williams, president of the Stein Democratic Club, wrote in the Blade, “Kenyan McDuffie is the type of leader that Ward 5 needs. He is intelligent, he has key experience in diverse matters from public safety to public policy, and he is a staunch supporter of the LGBT community. These are some of the reasons the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, D.C.’s largest LGBT political organization, endorsed Kenyan McDuffie for Ward 5 Council.  … and why I personally support Kenyan McDuffie.” Her confidence in Kenyan was well placed. For 10 years he has worked to build coalitions and create solutions, tackling D.C.’s most significant challenges. In his first year on the Council, he was elected to serve as Chairman Pro Tempore (Vice Chair), a position he continues to hold. 

Kenyan is what those of us looking at legislators call a work-horse, not a show-horse. He has put in the work to bring consensus and pass legislation, which he did with sweeping updates to D.C.’s criminal justice laws when he became chair of the Judiciary Committee in 2017. With that committee he oversaw the implementation of D.C.’s police body-worn camera program, including ensuring the public has fair access to the video footage from encounters with officers. 

Kenyan has a view of public safety that includes both a strong MPD, with appropriate community oversight, and recognition of the need to fully fund community organizations working to reduce crime. Kenyan, like the mayor, believes we need to do both of these things, not one or the other. He recently said, “One of my proudest moments on the Council is passing the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act. The law takes a holistic approach to preventing crime in the first instance and floods communities disproportionately impacted by violence with resources – including violence interrupters and behavioral and mental health services – in addition to more innovative, data-driven policing.”

For the past five years, Kenyan has chaired the Council’s Business and Economic Development Committee. His focus has been on helping grow the local economy with a stronger focus on supporting small and minority-owned businesses. He fought to put millions of dollars in the Commercial Acquisition Fund to allow socially disadvantaged business owners to apply for grants to purchase commercial properties here in D.C. Kenyan spearheaded an emergency relief package of $100 million to help the hospitality, entertainment, and retail industries – some of D.C.’s largest employers of immigrants and minority workers – weather the pandemic and keep District employees on the payroll.

For these reasons, and many more, we cannot afford to lose Kenyan’s voice on the Council. I urge everyone to cast their vote for Kenyan McDuffie for Council-at-large. 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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Bisexual activists cautiously excited after White House meeting

Sept. 20 gathering took place during Bisexual Visibility Week

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From left to right: Ellyn Ruthstrom, Tania Israel, Nicole Holmes, Mimi Hoang, Ezra Young, Lauren Beach, Belle Hagget Silverman, Diana Adams, Heron Greenesmith, and Khafre Abif. Kneeling: Robyn Ochs, Fiona Dawson and Blair Imani outside the White House on Sept. 20, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Heron Greenesmith)

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, just in time for Bisexual Visibility Week, a diverse group of 15 bisexual and pansexual activists met with officials from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including Melanie Fontes Rainer, the director of the Office of Civil Rights at HHS. 

The 15 advocates comprised a wide cross-section of the bisexual community, including nonbinary, transgender, female, young, older, Black, Asian and Muslim advocates, people with disabilities and parents. We came from many walks of life: Academia, education, research, health care, advocacy, law, media and community activism. This isn’t unusual: Bisexual people comprise more than half of all LGBT people, totally approximately 12.5 million bisexual adults in the U.S. Strikingly, 15 percent of all GenZ adults — nearly 1 in 6 — identify as bisexual. People of color are more likely to identify as bisexual, as are cisegender women and transgender people in general. 

It has been a painful six years since the Executive Branch last met with bisexual activists (you do the math.) Those meetings, like this one, were the product of tireless advocacy from a population with zero paid organizational staff and less than one percent of all philanthropic dollars earmarked for the LGBT community. It was these stats and others that we shared at HHS on Sept. 20. 

Bisexual and pansexual people face specific disparities in mental and physical health, intimate partner violence and monkeypox prevention, treatment and care. Did you know, for example, that nearly half of bisexual women report having been raped? And did you know that federal reporting on monkeypox doesn’t disaggregate between gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men, despite evidence that bisexual men are uniquely vulnerable to MPX and other infectious diseases. 

Khafre Abif is a Black bisexual educator, father and person living with HIV. At the meeting with agency officials, Abif shared the story of how staff at his HIV-care clinic initially denied him the monkeypox vaccine, despite Abif being bisexual and thus in a population of special focus for the vaccine. 

“This meeting has been a long time coming for the bi+ community,” said Abif. “I’m looking forward to a dialogue with federal officials about solving some of the health issues we face.”

In order to begin remedying these disparities and more, we presented the administration with a set of benchmarks, including the creation of a Federal Interagency Bisexual Liaison and a Federal Interagency Bisexual Working Group. Other benchmarks included training for HHS staff on bisexual disparities and remedies thereof, funding streams for bisexual-specific funding and interventions, and the disaggregation of data on specific health disparities. 

Robyn Ochs is a pillar of bisexual and pansexual community organizing. At HHS, Ochs shared more about her specific expertise. “Research has made clear our health disparities and invisibility. It’s time for federal interventions to catch up with what we already know through research and lived experience.”

Frustrated by years of inaction by the federal government to release bisexual-specific data, target the bisexual and pansexual community with tailored interventions, or recognize the importance of bi+ health in general, we are cautiously excited by this opportunity to share critical data and remedies. 

Heron Greenesmith is the Senior Research Analyst for LGBTQI+ Justice at Political Research Associates, and the co-founder of BiLaw and the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition. Find Greenesmith on Twitter @herong.

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