October 1, 2020 at 7:12 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Team Rayceen, Blade, Stein Club conclude forum series for at-large Council candidates
Rayceen Pendarvis, gay news, Washington Blade
Rayceen Pendarvis (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A series of three virtual online forums for at-large D.C. Council candidates running in the Nov. 3 election organized jointly by the community service and entertainment group Team Rayceen Productions, the Washington Blade, and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club concluded on Tuesday night.

A total of 17 of the 24 candidates running for two at-large Council seats on the ballot this year participated in the three forums. Team Rayceen leader Rayceen Pendarvis, who served as moderator, and others from Team Rayceen and the Stein Club who presented questions to the candidates focused on a wide range of issues, including LGBTQ-related issues.

Each of the 17 candidates participating, including incumbent At-Large Council member Robert White, the only Democrat running in the at-large race, expressed support for LGBTQ rights and the LGBTQ community.

Among the six candidates participating in the final forum session on Sept. 29 was gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Alexander Padro, who is one of two out gay candidates running for a D.C. Council seat in the Nov. 3 election. Gay ANC member Randy Downs is running for the Ward 2 Council seat.

D.C. voters have the option of voting for two candidates in the at-large race, with the highest two vote-getters to be declared the winner. Under election rules established by Congress, a “majority party” candidate is allowed to hold only one of the two at-large seats. In D.C., the Democrats are the majority party.

“Thank you all to our candidates for standing up for change,” Pendarvis said in remarks at the conclusion of the final forum session. “This is a journey and I wish you all the best,” said Pendarvis. “For those who do not make the Council, your journey is just beginning. The task has been given to you to continue to run a race, to walk into the life of those who have given you the strength to continue being community advocates, being voices for change.”

In addition to Robert White and Alexander Padro, the candidates that participated in the three forums included independents Monica Palacio, Markus Batchelor, Chander Jayaraman, Ed Lazere, Claudia Barragan, Michangelo ‘Doctor Mic’ Scruggs, Mario Cristaldo, Vincent Orange, Kathy Henderson, Eric Rogers, Will Merrifield, Jeanne Lewis, and Christina Henderson. Also participating were Statehood Green Party candidate Ann Wilcox and Republican candidate Marya Pickering.

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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