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Ward 2 redistricting plan would split Dupont Circle ‘gayborhood’

Activists call on Council to keep LGBTQ neighborhood intact

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Brooke Pinto, gay news, Washington Blade
‘Excising this part of Ward 2 would arbitrarily cut off the LGBTQQIA+ community that has such a rich history in North Dupont,’ said D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2).

D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2) has joined a growing contingent of her ward’s LGBTQ residents in calling on the D.C. Council to reject parts of three proposed redistricting plans for Ward 2 that would transfer portions of the North Dupont Circle neighborhood into Ward 1.

The redistricting proposals, which were released to the public on Monday, Nov. 1, were drafted by a three-member D.C. Council Subcommittee on Redistricting appointed by Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large). 

The subcommittee members include Council members Elissa Silverman (D-At-Large), who was named as chair; and fellow Council members Anita Bonds (D-At-Large) and Christina Henderson (I-At-Large). 

In an eight-page statement released this week, the subcommittee points out that a shifting of the city’s ward boundary lines is needed to bring the city into legal conformance with the 2020 U.S. Census count for D.C., which shows shifts in population within the city. 

Gay Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Mike Silverstein is among the activists who say the redistricting proposals would unnecessarily split Dupont Circle’s historic “gayborhood,” which has served as a safe space for LGBTQ D.C. residents for decades.

Silverstein noted that those in opposition to the proposals are members of ANC 2B, which represents the Dupont Circle area. 

“Half of ANC 2B’s eight commissioners are openly gay,” Silverstein said in a statement. “2B represents the historic epicenter of D.C.’s LGBT community,” he said. “If any of these three working maps were to be adopted as presented, that would no longer be the case.” 

Silverstein was referring to three maps that the Subcommittee on Redistricting released this week showing proposed significant changes in the boundary lines for Wards 6, 7, and 8.

The subcommittee points out that the population of Ward 6 grew by 17,699 residents since the 2010 U.S. Census count, and Wards 7 and 8 lost 5,628 residents and 3,370 residents respectively over the past decade.

In its statement, it says to balance the population of each of the eight wards, some neighborhoods in Ward 6 — most likely the Southwest D.C. waterfront neighborhood — must be moved to Ward 8. Neighborhoods in other wards that border on Wards 7 and 8 must be moved into those two wards to raise the Ward 7 and 8 population counts to “within range” that equalizes the population of each of the wards, according to the statement.

Silverstein points out that the subcommittee itself shows in its statistical findings that Ward 2 is currently “within range” of the census count requirements for equal representation for its residents.

A public hearing by the subcommittee was scheduled to take place on Friday, Nov. 5, to provide a forum for residents from throughout the city to voice their opinions on the proposed redistricting plans.

“Keeping communities together and not arbitrarily drawing lines through neighborhoods is an important consideration,” Councilmember Pinto said in a Nov. 1 statement. “This is one of the reasons why I am troubled to see parts of North Dupont Circle removed from Ward 2 in some of the ‘Maps for Discussion’ released today,” Pinto said.

“Excising this part of Ward 2 would arbitrarily cut off the LGBTQQIA+ community that has such a rich history and pronounced presence in North Dupont,” Pinto said. “I will be working with my colleagues to ensure that this community remains in Ward 2.” 

The full D.C. Council was expected to make a final decision on the redistricting proposals sometime in December.

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Comings & Goings

Conner promoted to manager of Scott Circle Communications

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Robert Conner

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Robert Conner, promoted to manager of Scott Circle Communications. On his promotion Conner said, “I’m proud to be promoted to manager of Scott Circle Communications. Our clients are all mission-driven. I am fortunate to use my expertise to help clients communicate complex and urgent information to the public in order to help people learn about new research relating to their health, and the society around them. As an activist fighting for equality and LGBTQ causes, my daily work at Scott Circle Communications aligns with my overarching life goal of using communication to benefit the greater good by writing clearly to bridge misunderstandings.” 

Conner previously worked at SKDKnickerbocker in D.C. Prior to that he had been an intern in the office of Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).  He has had a number of speaking engagements with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and received a bronze Bulldog Award for Best Media Relations Campaign 2022. He served as chair of the volunteer engagement committee of the Human Rights Campaign in Greater Philadelphia.

Conner earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa.

Congratulations also to Christopher Rudolf who joined Atlantic Shores Sotheby’s International Realty in Ocean City, Md. Rudolph is a licensed Realtor in Maryland and Delaware specializing in the beaches and coastal areas of Worcester County, Md., and Sussex County, Del. He said, “I have been assisting buyers and sellers of real estate in our area since 2015. I thoroughly enjoy helping people achieve their dreams of coastal property ownership. The Maryland/Delaware seashore is a very cool place that I like to call home, and teaching people about the history and attractions of the region is a lifelong passion of mine.”  

In addition to real estate in the warm months, Rudolf works part-time as a manager at The Kite Loft of Ocean City. He was appointed to the Ocean City Board of Zoning Appeals in 2013 by Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, and recently was elected chair of the board.  

He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Salisbury University in Maryland.  

Christopher Rudolf
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Maryland

Lesbian candidate trails by just 17 votes in Hyattsville Council race

Election board mum on whether all ballots are counted

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Lisbeth Melendez Rivera (Photo courtesy of the Melendez Rivera Campaign)

Lesbian activist and diversity consultant Lisbeth Melendez Rivera was behind her closet rival by just 17 votes on Tuesday night in a three-candidate special election to fill a vacant seat on the Hyattsville, Md., City Council.

In what it said were the unofficial results of the special election, the Hyattsville Board of Supervisors of Elections posted on its website that candidate Emily Strab had 280 votes, Melendez Rivera had 263 votes, and candidate Kelly Burello had 152 votes. Three votes were cast for write-in candidates, the election night posting said.

“Results are unofficial until certified by the Board of Supervisors of Election,” the posting said. The certification was scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.

The online posting of the results did not say whether there were any outstanding votes from absentee or mail-in ballots. A spokesperson for the election board couldn’t immediately be reached Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

The Ward 2 seat on the 10-member Hyattsville Council in the Prince George’s County suburban city became vacant when the incumbent Council member, Robert Croslin, won election as mayor.

Melendez Rivera currently operates BQN Consulting, a firm she created to provide support services related to organizing, training and capacity building, according to the firm’s website. The website says that from 2014 to 2017 she served as Director of Latinx & Catholic Initiatives for the Human Rights Campaign, the D.C.-based national LGBTQ advocacy organization.

“I congratulated Emily,” Melendez Rivera told the Washington Blade Wednesday morning.

 “Have I said this is the end? No, because I want to wait until tomorrow at 1 to see the outcome,” she said.

“What I know is everything that was available to them was counted as of 9:30 last night,” she said, referring to the election board. “There is a process today. They will do a last check of the mail to see if anything was postmarked before 8 p.m. last night,” Melendez Rivera said in referring to possible additional mail-in ballots.

Melendez Rivera said she portrayed herself as the most progressive of the three candidates running for the nonpartisan City Council seat in a city that many consider to be one of the most progressive jurisdictions in the Washington metro area. Residents starting at age 16 and non-citizen immigrants are allowed to vote in local elections.

Like Melendez Rivera, Strab, a former teacher and school administrator, and Burello, who has worked as a workplace diversity trainer, each expressed support for Hyattsville’s diverse population, including racial minorities and immigrants.

The 698 total votes cast in the special election as of Tuesday night is considered a low turnout in the Ward 2 election district, which has a little over 2,000 registered voters.

This story will be updated when new information becomes available.

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District of Columbia

Gay ANC commissioner nominated for director of D.C. Office of ANCs

Confirmation hearing set for Oct. 12

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Ward 1 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kent Boese (Photo courtesy of Boese)

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) on Sept. 19 introduced a resolution nominating gay law librarian and Ward 1 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kent Boese to become executive director of the D.C. Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.

The ANC Office director, who is nominated and confirmed by the Council, oversees the operations of the city’s 40 ANCs, which consist of nearly 300 commissioners representing single member ANC districts located in neighborhoods throughout each of the city’s eight wards.

Boese currently represents ANC Single Member District 1A08 in Ward 1.

Shawn Hilgendorf, staff director of the D.C. Council Committee on Government Operations and Facilities, which has jurisdiction over the Office of ANCs, said Mendelson nominated Boese for the Executive Director’s position after the committee earlier this year accepted applications for the position and “interviewed a number of candidates.”

The Council’s Committee of the Whole, which is chaired by Mendelson, is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for Boese on Oct. 12, Hilgendorf said. The committee consists of all 13 members of the Council. If it approves Boese’s nomination, as expected, the full Council is expected to then take a final vote on the resolution calling for Boese’s appointment.

Boese is a former president of the D.C. Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest local LGBTQ political group, which has since changed its name to the Capital Stonewall Democrats. In 2018, Boese ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Ward 1 D.C. Council seat in the Democratic primary.

A resumé for Boese submitted to the Council at the time of his nomination says he has worked since August 2008 as a law librarian, manager of technical services, and manager of library services for the D.C. law firm Wiley Rein.

“I’m honored & humbled by the confidence & support I’ve received from Chairman Mendelson during the selection process for a new Director of OANC,” Boese wrote in a Twitter posting. “I’m excited to leverage my ANC experience & relationships to build stronger supports & new services for ANCs across DC.”

Created under the city’s Home Rule Charter in the 1970s, ANCs serve as non-partisan, unpaid bodies that advise city government agencies on a variety of issues impacting neighborhoods, including zoning, trash collection, liquor license approval, and public safety. Although D.C. government agencies make the final decisions on these issues, they are required to give “great weight” to the recommendations of the ANCs.   

ANC commissioners are elected to two-year terms by the approximately 2,000 people who live in their Single Member Districts.

The director of the ANC Office oversees the administrative affairs, including the budgets, for all of the ANCs. The position became vacant last year when its longtime director Gottlieb Simon resigned. The Council appointed Schannette Grant as interim executive director while it conducted its search for a permanent director.

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