October 19, 2020 at 3:39 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
GLAA again revises rating for D.C. Council candidate
Statehood Green Party candidate Peter Bolton is one of four candidates running for the Ward 2 D.C. Council seat. (Photo courtesy of the Statehood Green Party)

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance announced on Sunday, Oct. 18, that it has revised its rating on LGBTQ issues for Statehood Green Party candidate Peter Bolton, who is one of four candidates running for the Ward 2 D.C. Council seat, from a score of “0” to +4.

The rating change came after Bolton informed GLAA that he had completed GLAA’s candidate questionnaire and returned it by email to GLAA on Aug. 24, over a month before the GLAA deadline. He stated that GLAA incorrectly gave him a “0” rating on grounds that he had not returned the questionnaire and the LGBTQ group was unaware of his views on LGBTQ issues.

In a statement accompanying its ratings GLAA explains why it gave Bolton a +4 rating. Bolton “agrees with GLAA on all issues but provided limited substance and occasionally strayed off topic in his responses,” the statement says. “Candidate provided no details of his record on LGBTQ issues and GLAA could not confirm any record on LGBTQ issues.”

Bolton became the fifth D.C. Council candidate running in the Nov. 3 election to have his rating upgraded by GLAA. The other four candidates said they never received the questionnaire from GLAA and would have submitted it had they received it. GLAA allowed each of them to turn in the completed questionnaire and upgraded their ratings.

In a related development, on Oct. 18 at-large Council candidate Markus Batchelor, who’s running as an independent, informed the Washington Blade that he too did not receive the GLAA questionnaire. Batchelor, who currently serves as the Ward 8 member of the D.C. State Board of Education, said he planned to ask GLAA to allow him to submit the questionnaire this week so his rating, which GLAA earlier this month announced was +1, could be revised. GLAA stated in its earlier round of ratings that it had not received a questionnaire response from Batchelor.

“I have a long history of support for our LGBTQ+ neighbors and have a bold vision for supporting the LGBTQ+ community from the Council,” Batchelor told the Blade in an email on Sunday.

GLAA President Bobbi Elaine Strang told the Blade in an email on Monday, Oct. 19, that GLAA has been “in communication” with Batchelor and informed him that if GLAA receives his completed questionnaire “we will rate it.”

“Organizations that award candidate ratings bear a responsibility to both the candidates and voters to ensure their communications are reliable and their rating process is fair and unbiased,” a statement released on Oct. 16 by the Bolton for Ward 2 campaign says. “We assert that GLAA has failed on both counts, and we urge GLAA to issue an apology and retraction.”

GLAA issued its own statement on Oct. 18 responding to the concerns raised by the candidates that claimed not to have received the questionnaire and Bolton’s claim that he turned in the questionnaire two months ago.

“GLAA endeavors to have a fair ratings process each election cycle,” the GLAA statement says. “As an all-volunteer organization we do our best to be timely in releasing our policy brief and questionnaire, which has been on our website since this spring,” the statement continues. “We sent out emails with a link to these documents after the B.O.E. [Board of Elections] released the candidate list to all candidates for whom we did not already possess a completed questionnaire based on the email addresses published by the B.O.E.,” says the statement.

“We are not sure why some candidates believe they were not sent the link. We accepted their word and issued an extension and ratings for those candidates,” the statement says. “One candidate has shown that he sent us his questionnaire; we could not find it in our email. We are rating that candidate as well.”

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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