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Man charged in D.C. trans murder case sentenced to seven years

Judge adds two additional years for probation violation in burglary

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Deeniquia ‘Dee Dee’ Dodds was killed in 2016.

A D.C. Superior Court judge on April 22 sentenced one of four men charged with first-degree murder while armed for the July 4, 2016, shooting death of transgender woman Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds on a street in Northeast Washington to seven years in jail for the murder.

Judge Milton C. Lee sentenced Shareem Hall, 28, to an additional two years in jail for violating his probation in an unrelated conviction for a 2013 home invasion burglary, bringing his total sentence to nine years.

Lee pointed out that Shareem Hall’s involvement in the Dodds murder took place while he was on supervised release in connection with the burglary case, which violated the terms of his release. Lee said the additional two years were for the jail time he would have received had he not been given a suspended sentence in the burglary case.

Hall’s brother, Cyheme Hall, 26, who was also charged with first-degree murder while armed in the Dodds murder case, appeared in court on April 22 for what was expected to be his sentencing. But Lee postponed that sentencing until May 10 at the request of Cyheme Hall’s attorney, who said he needed more time to prepare for the sentencing.

Shareem Hall’s sentencing came four months after two other men charged in the Dodds murder – Jalonta Little, 31, and Monte T. Johnson, 26 — were sentenced by Lee to eight years in jail in the Dodds murder case.

Their sentencing came after they agreed to an offer by prosecutors with the Office of the United States Attorney for D.C. to plead guilty to a single charge of voluntary manslaughter in exchange for the murder charge and other gun related and armed robbery charges being dropped.

D.C. police said Dodds was one of several transgender women that the four men targeted for armed robberies on the night of Dodds’s murder in locations in the city where trans women were known to congregate. Police said Dodds was fatally shot in the neck at point blank range after she fought back when the men attempted to rob her. Cyheme Hall testified at a 2019 trial for Little and Johnson that it was Johnson who shot Dodds.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office initially listed the case as a hate crime because the four men were targeting transgender people for crimes. But the hate crime designation was dropped at the time of the trial after Lee ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove the motive was hate rather than robbery.

In handing down his sentence on April 22 for Shareem Hall, Lee noted that Hall cooperated with prosecutors after his arrest in the Dodds case in 2016 by agreeing to testify as a prosecution witness at the 2019 trial for Little and Johnson on the murder and related gun charges in connection with the Dodds murder.

Lee, who presided over the trial, declared a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office initially said they planned to bring the two men up for another trial. But that never happened, and the case remained in limbo for a little over two years until the plea agreement for the voluntary manslaughter charge was reached last year.

Court records at the time showed that shortly before the 2019 trial for Little and Johnson, both Hall brothers accepted an offer by prosecutors to plead guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in addition to each agreeing to testify at the combined trial for Little and Johnson.

Court records do not show any attempt by the Hall brothers’ attorneys to seek a withdrawal of their guilty plea to second-degree murder in exchange for the same offer prosecutors made for Little and Johnson for a voluntary manslaughter plea.

The current public court records for the Shareem Hall case make a reference to a guilty plea by Hall but make no mention of his having pled guilty to second-degree murder. Instead, the records show Hall having a conviction for three of the original murder related charges.

A spokesperson for the D.C. Superior Court could not be immediately reached by the Washington Blade for an explanation of how the ultimate charges for which Shareem Hall has been sentenced came about. Jonathan Zucker, the attorney representing Cyheme Hall, told the Blade outside the courtroom, following the April 22 sentencing hearing for Shareem Hall, that he didn’t think prosecutors would agree to a plea offer of voluntary manslaughter for the Hall brothers.

The court docket states that at the April 22 sentencing hearing, Lee sentenced Shareem Hall to seven years for Murder 1 While Armed; four years for Conspiracy to Commit a Crime of Violence; and four years for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in connection with the Dodds case.

Although the combined sentences come to 15 years, the docket shows that Lee ordered that the three sentences be served concurrently, requiring Hall to serve a total of seven years. Lee ordered that Hall serve the seven years in the Dodds case and the two years for the 2013 burglary case consecutively, bringing his total time served to nine years.

However, as is often the practice in this type of criminal case, Judge Lee gave Hall credit for the five and a half years he has already served in jail since the time of his arrest for the Dodds case in September 2016, for which he has been held without bond. That means Hall can be eligible for release in about three and a half years.

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said his office confirmed that Judge Lee sentenced Shareem Hall to the seven years in prison in the Dodds case based on a single charge of second-degree murder. “I’m not sure why the docket reads like it does,” he said, referring to the online court docket stating that Lee linked his seven-year sentence to the charges of Murder 1, Conspiracy to Commit a Crime of Violence, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm.  

Dorsey Jones, Shareem Hall’s attorney, told Lee at the sentencing hearing that his client, who has a girlfriend and two children, grew up in a high crime neighborhood in which his father, who was known to the family as a drug dealer, was murdered in 2009. Jones said Shareem Hall did not become involved with the criminal justice system until after his father’s murder, which Jones said had “a big impact” Hall’s life.

“Had his father not been murdered, he may have gone down a different path,” said Jones, who added that his client has expressed remorse over the Dodds murder. Jones told the court that Hall demonstrated that remorse by becoming a prosecution witness at the trial of Johnson and Little, placing his own life in danger by doing that.

According to Jones, Johnson and Little, who will be released from prison within the next four years, and people associated with them will likely take steps to retaliate against Hall for testifying against Little and Johnson at their trial. “He can’t remain in D.C. when he gets out,” Jones said. “He is in danger.”

At that point Jones requested and received permission from Lee to continue his statement on his client’s behalf off the public record. He handed the two assistant U.S. Attorneys serving as prosecutors and Judge Lee earphones with a mic. The judge then turned on a static sound noisemaker in the courtroom while Jones spoke for a little over five minutes before Lee reopened the hearing for the public record.

Jones then concluded by asking Lee to sentence Hall to seven years with five years’ probation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Donovan told Lee the government agreed with the seven-year sentence request.

When Lee asked Hall to speak on his own behalf, Hall apologized for his role in the Dodds murder and said he has apologized for his actions to his family and his kids.

“I’ve programmed myself so I can do better, so I can be a father and a role model for my son,” he said.

“I’m willing to give you some break because I think you were of assistance to the government,” Lee told Hall. “But you can’t get a pass,” the judge said. “The shooting death of Ms. Dodds was one of the most senseless acts I’ve unfortunately been exposed to,” Lee added. “And the individuals you picked on were among the most vulnerable in the District of Columbia.”

At the time of the December 2021 sentencing for defendants Little and Johnson, the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community’s Anti-Violence Project submitted a community impact statement to Judge Lee strongly objecting to the agreement by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Officer to lower the charge from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. The statement called on Lee to hand down the maximum sentence possible under the law.

“[W]e ask that you take into consideration the perceived vulnerability of the victim of the defendants’ violent crimes as a transgender woman of color whose rights and life were targeted in a way that confirms they did not matter to the defendants,” the statement says. “Her voice is silenced, but the grief and outcry for justice from the LGBTQ+ community rises in honor of her death and demands effective and responsive protection for the lives of all LGBTQ+ people targeted by future criminals,” the statement says.

Court records for the Shareem Hall case do not show a similar community impact statement from an LGBTQ organization was submitted to the judge.

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District of Columbia

One of two gay candidates wins primary for D.C. Council

Bowser triumphs in Democratic race for third term as mayor

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Gay D.C. Board of Education member Zachary Parker won the Democratic primary for the Ward 5 Council seat.

Gay D.C. Board of Education member Zachary Parker emerged as the clear winner in a seven-candidate race for the Ward 5 D.C. Council seat in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, placing him in a strong position to win the November general election and become the first openly gay member of the Council since 2015.

With nearly all of the votes counted shortly before midnight, Parker had 41.65 percent of the vote, with his closest rival, Faith Gibson Hubbard, receiving 23.41 percent. Former at-large and Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange had 16.66 percent of the vote in his unsuccessful bid to return to the Council.

While Parker and his supporters celebrated his primary victory, gay former D.C. police officer Salah Czapary lost his bid for the Ward 1 D.C. Council seat to incumbent Councilmember Brianne Nadeau by a margin of 47.39 percent to 32.09 percent. A third candidate in the Ward 1 race, Sabel Harris, had 20.25 percent of the vote.

Parker had an advantage over Czapary, according to political observers, because he was running for an open seat after incumbent Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie ran unsuccessfully for Attorney General rather than re-election to the Council. Incumbents, such as Nadeau in Ward 1, are considered to have a better chance of winning re-election.

But some political observers, based on reports of a private poll showing Czapary running close if not slightly ahead of Nadeau, thought Czapary had a good shot at unseating Nadeau. That prompted what Czapary’s supporters said was an onslaught of negative campaign attacks against Czapary. The attacks were based in part on a Washington City Paper story disclosing his campaign chairperson was a registered Republican and was associated with a conservative think tank that supports Donald Trump.

Czapary said he immediately secured the resignation of his campaign chair, saying he did not know he was a registered Republican. He also pointed out that as a gay Arab American he was a longtime Democratic Party supporter even though, as Nadeau supporters pointed out, he was an independent and did not become a registered Democrat until earlier this year.

The political attacks against Czapary continued, with large signs accusing him of having “Republican campaign leadership” being posted on light poles in Ward 1 as well as outside the nearby Number 9 gay bar in Ward 2, which Ward 1 residents are known to patronize.

“I’m sure negative campaigning has an effect,” Czapary told the Washington Blade at his election night gathering at the Duplex Diner in Adams Morgan, which drew more than 100 supporters.

“But we made a very essential effort to focus on the issues that voters want to talk about,” he said. “And you know, the election is over, and bygones are bygones. And I look forward to working with Councilmember Nadeau on some of the issues that resonated with voters that voted for me.”

With Nadeau and all the other candidates running in the June 21 Democratic primary – including Mayor Muriel Bowser and her three Democratic rivals — expressing support for LGBTQ issues or having long records of support — LGBTQ voters are believed to have based their vote on other issues such as public safety and affordable housing among other issues.

As of just before midnight on election day, Bowser had 49.86 percent of the vote, with rival mayoral candidates D.C. Councilmember Robert White (D-At-Large) receiving 38.51 percent and Councilmember Trayon White (D-Ward 8) receiving 9.8 percent. The fourth candidate in the mayoral race, James Butler, had 1.47 percent of the vote. The Associated Press earlier in the evening projected Bowser as the winner.

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) had 54.82 percent of the vote compared to challenger Erin Palmer, who had 44.72 percent. In the four-candidate At-Large D.C. Council race, incumbent Anita Bonds was ahead with 38.33 percent of the vote, with rival Democrats Lisa Gore with 26.96 percent, Nate Fleming 26.45 percent, and Dexter Williams with 7.54 percent.

In the hotly contested Ward 3 D.C. Council race, in which nine candidates were on the ballot, Matthew Frumin was ahead with 38 percent of the vote. Eric Goulet was in second place with 31.01 percent. The remaining candidates, including three who dropped out and threw their support to Frumin after it was too late to have their names removed from the ballot, received less than 7 percent of the vote.

D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) was the clear winner in her bid for re-election, with 86.55 percent of the vote. Her two opponents in the primary, Wendy Hamilton and Kelly Mikel Williams received 6.15 percent and 6.36 percent, respectively.

In the race for D.C. Attorney General, attorney Brian Schwalb was ahead with 45.21 percent of the vote, with rival attorneys Bruce Spiva and Ryan Jones receiving 35.65 percent and 18.32 percent of the vote, respectively.

In the race for U.S. Representative, which is known as D.C.’s shadow representative to the U.S. House of Representatives, with no voting powers, incumbent Oye Owolewa was trailing challenger Linda Gray by a vote of 49.78 percent to 48.64 percent. Owolewa was the only Democratic incumbent on the primary ballot who was not substantially ahead of their opponent.

In a development that surprised some observers, the Capital Stonewall Democrats, the city’s largest local LGBTQ political group, endorsed Robert White over Bowser and backed challenger Erin Palmer over Council Chair Phil Mendelson. The group also endorsed Nadeau over gay challenger Czapary. In the Ward 5 race, Capital Stonewall Democrats endorsed Parker.

With the overwhelming majority of the city’s voters being registered Democrats, winners in the D.C. Democratic primary almost always win in the November general election. In the D.C. Republican primary on Tuesday, GOP candidates ran unopposed for the office of congressional delegate, mayor, Council chair, at-large Council member, and Council member for Wards 3 and 5.

Most political observers say that with Republicans having little or no chance of winning, Democrats running against each other in the primaries tend to divide along the lines of moderate Democrat versus progressive-left Democrat.

In Tuesday’s primary, Bowser, Mendelson, Bonds, and Czapary were considered representatives of the party’s moderates. Their opponents, including Ward 1 incumbent Nadeau, are considered representatives of the party’s progressive-left faction. Parker is also considered part of the progressive-left faction.

Parker won election in 2018 as the Ward 5 representative on the D.C. Board of Education. His fellow board members last year elected him as president of the board. He drew media attention earlier this year when he came out publicly as gay in a video message he posted on his Twitter page.

“I am very proud and confident in who I am and who I’ve been,” he said in his video message. “Many already know – my family, my friends, many community leaders,” he continued. “But I recognize that many may not know, and this may come as a surprise. So, I thought it was important for me to share my full self,” he said.

Lesbian activists Sheila Alexander-Reid and Courtney Snowden, who each held high-level positions in the Bowser administration in the recent past, were among the large number of LGBTQ activists who turned out for Bowser’s election night party at the Franklin Hall restaurant and nightclub. Alexander-Reid served as director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs and Snowden served as Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity, the highest-level position an LGBTQ person has held in the D.C. mayor’s office.

Both told the Washington Blade they believe Bowser will continue her commitment to addressing the needs and concerns of all factions of the LGBTQ community, including those who did not vote for her on Tuesday.

“I think we need to come together and work with her,” said Alexander-Reid in referring to LGBTQ voters who supported Robert White. “And if they have some issues and concerns, bring them to her attention,” she said. “I can tell you firsthand when you bring issues to her attention, she takes care of it, and she addresses it.”

Snowden said the diversity reflected in the several hundred people attending the mayor’s election night event symbolized her ability to bring people together to solve problems.

“I am so happy to see the mayor get exactly what she deserves, four more years to make good on her promises she made to our city, to the LGBTQ community, for the District’s long-time residents, to African Americans, and to everyone,” Snowden said. “She is doing incredible work and the city has resoundingly said that she gets to do this for four more years to bring prosperity for all in every single ward of our city.”

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District of Columbia

D.C. police hiring program welcomes LGBTQ recruits

Mayor, MPD chief announce $20K bonus in recruitment effort

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DC Police Chief Robert Contee speaks at press conference in which he and Mayor Muriel Bowser announce a $20,000 police hiring recruitment bonus. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s LGBT Liaison Unit and the department’s other community liaison units are playing a “huge part” in a stepped-up officer recruitment program and members of the LGBTQ community are encouraged to consider applying to become a D.C. police officer, Police Chief Robert Contee told the Washington Blade.

“We welcome everybody. The LGBTQ community – we welcome everybody,” Contee told the Blade after he and Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new $20,000 hiring bonus to make MPD more competitive in recruiting new officers during a press conference on Friday, June 17, held just outside Stanton Park on Capitol Hill.

“And this is just a great place to work,” the chief told the Blade. “You can follow us on our Instagram, and you can see how much we embrace the LGBTQ community,” he said. “So, join MPD if you’re interested in a career in law enforcement.”

Bowser said the new $20,000 hiring bonus is part of her Fiscal Year 2023 police budget, which funds an additional 347 new officers and takes effect at the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2022.

“We know how critical it is to have a fully staffed and resourced MPD, and that requires us to hire strong talent and to retain experienced officers,” Bowser said at the news conference. “These hiring bonuses will help MPD recruit and hire more officers to keep our city safe,” she said.

A statement released by the mayor’s office says the bonus would be paid in two installments, with $10,000 paid at the time a new officer is hired and the remaining $10,000 paid upon the officer’s successful completion of the police academy training program.

“The starting salary at MPD is currently $60,199, which means that with the new bonus, first-year officers will be eligible to earn more than $80,000,” the statement says. It says full details on how to apply to become a D.C. police officer can be accessed at joinmpd.dc.gov.

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District of Columbia

LGBTQ voters to choose among friends in D.C. elections

Out gay candidates considered viable in Ward 1, 5 Council races

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Incumbent Council member Brianne Nadeau faces a challenge from gay candidate Salah Czapary in the June 21 primary. (Blade photos by Michael Key)

In what LGBTQ activists consider a highly positive development, all serious candidates running for mayor, D.C. Council, Attorney General, and the city’s congressional delegate seat and “shadow” U.S. House seat in the city’s June 21 Democratic primary have either expressed strong support for LGBTQ issues or have long records of support on those issues.

Activists following the election say they expect LGBTQ voters — like all D.C. voters — to decide who to vote for based on a number of other issues, including public safety, affordable housing, and whether the city’s public schools should remain under mayoral control or return to the previous system of an independent school board, among other issues.

“We are fortunate to live in a city where all candidates support the LGBTQ community, so it is other issues our community is focused on,” said gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who is supporting Mayor Muriel Bowser’s re-election bid for a third term in office.

Other LGBTQ activists, including former Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance President Rick Rosendall, are backing D.C. Council member Robert White (D-At-Large) for mayor. Like Bowser, Robert White has a long record of support on LGBTQ issues.

Ward 8 Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and community activist and former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner James Butler are also running for mayor in the Democratic primary. Trayon White has supported LGBTQ issues on the Council and Butler has expressed support for those issues.

The other races on the primary ballot on June 21 include D.C. Council Chair; At-Large D.C. Council member, Council members for Wards 1, 3, 5, and 6; D.C. Attorney General; D.C. Congressional Delegate; and U.S. Representative, also known as the city’s “shadow” House member with no voting powers in Congress.

In an action that surprised some in the LGBTQ community, the Capital Stonewall Democrats, the city’s largest LGBTQ political group, has endorsed Robert White over Bowser in the mayor’s race and Democratic challenger Erin Palmer over incumbent longtime LGBTQ rights supporter Phil Mendelson for the D.C. Council Chair position.

Capital Stonewall Democrats has also endorsed incumbent Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau over her out gay challenger, former D.C. police officer Salah Czapary, who has been endorsed by the Washington Post and by former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams.

The LGBTQ Democratic group has endorsed the second out gay D.C. Council candidate running this year, D.C. Board of Education President Zachary Parker, who is among seven candidates competing for the open Ward 5 D.C. Council seat. Incumbent Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie is not running for re-election.

Parker has been endorsed by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, the Washington Teacher’s Union, and the Sierra Club among other local political groups. Both Czapary and Parker were endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, the national group that raises money to help elect LGBTQ candidates for public office.

The other candidates competing with Parker for the Ward 5 Council seat include former At-Large and Ward 5 Council member Vincent Orange and community activists Faith Gibson Hubbard, Gary Johnson, Art Lloyd, Gordon Fletcher, and Kathy Henderson.

In other races, Capital Stonewall Democrats voted to endorse D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who is running unopposed in the primary; D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is favored to win re-election against two lesser-known challengers; and D.C. shadow U.S. Rep. Oye Owolewa, who’s also favored to win over a lesser-known opponent.

The LGBTQ group did not make an endorsement in the Ward 3 and At-Large D.C. Council races and in the D.C. Attorney General’s race because no candidate received a required 60 percent of the vote from group’s members under its longstanding rules for endorsements.

Eight candidates are running for the Ward 3 Council seat for which incumbent Council member Mary Cheh is not seeking re-election. A ninth candidate, Tricia Duncan, dropped out of the race earlier this week and endorsed candidate Matthew Frumin. Some political observers say Frumin and former city budget director Eric Goulet are the two frontrunners in the race. The other candidates include Henry Cohen, Ben Bergman, Beau Finley, Monte Monash, Deirdre Brown, and Phil Thomas. All have expressed strong support for LGBTQ equality.

Also expressing support for the LGBTQ community are the three candidates running for Attorney General — Brian Schwalb, Ryan Jones, and Bruce Spiva. Each is a practicing attorney at separate D.C. law firms.

In the At-Large Council race, three candidates are challenging incumbent and longtime LGBTQ rights supporter Anita Bonds – Lisa Gore, Nate Fleming, and Dexter Williams, each of whom also expressed support for the LGBTQ community.

In the D.C. Congressional Delegate race challenger Rev. Wendy Hamilton served as minister for the LGBTQ supportive Metropolitan Community Church in suburban Maryland and describes herself as a strong LGBTQ ally. The second challenger to incumbent Eleanor Holmes Norton is community activist Kelly Mikel Williams, who also expressed support for the LGBTQ community.

Jatarious Frazier, the Capital Stonewall Democrats president, said Norton’s years of acting as a champion for LGBTQ rights on Capitol Hill made her an easy choice for the group’s endorsement for re-election.

Political observers have said the current “dividing line” between the city’s Democratic candidates who run against each other in the primaries historically has been whether they position themselves as moderates or left-leaning progressives. Democratic voters, including LGBTQ voters, also fall into those two ideological camps, according to observers.

But some political observers say the Ward 1 and Ward 5 D.C. Council races, where openly gay candidates are running, have raised the question of whether LGBTQ voters should vote “gay” rather than follow their ideological leanings, to bring back LGBTQ representation on the Council for the first time in eight years.

The late gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) left the Council in January 2015 after losing his 2014 re-election bid to incumbent Ward 1 Council member Nadeau. Gay former D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) left office in 2015 after an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2014.

Supporters of Czapary and Parker have said a member of the LGBTQ community on the D.C. Council would offer important representation for the LGBTQ community that a straight ally cannot necessarily provide on issues such as homeless LGBTQ youth and persistent hate violence to which the LGBTQ community, especially transgender women, are faced with.

In addition to being endorsed by AG Racine, the Teacher’s Union, and the Sierra Club, Parker received the endorsement of Ward 4 D.C. Council member Janeese Lewis George, who’s considered one of the Council’s left-leaning progressives, as well as the endorsement of the left-leaning groups Democratic Socialists of America and the Working Families Party.

Parker told the Washington Post he doesn’t view his race for the Ward 5 Council seat as being one of moderate versus liberal left.

“You will see a range of people that span ideology [supporting me],” the Post quoted him as saying. “And that is what we need more of in our political system,” he told the Post.

Czapary, who states on his campaign website that he supports progressive values, says he holds positions on key issues as a moderate Democrat, including issues related to public safety. He has supported Bowser’s call for the Council to increase the police budget to restore funds the Council cut from the police budget two years ago. He points out that Nadeau was among the Council members that voted to cut the police budget.

Nadeau has said she has taken strong action in support of public safety policies, including violence interruption programs that Czapary also supports.

Czapary’s supporters, including the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed him, say he too would transcend ideology to work for solutions to the problems facing Ward 1 and the city. As the son of a Palestinian refugee and a Hungarian immigrant, he would become the first Arab American to serve on the D.C. Council, his supporters point out.

“D.C. boasts the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ individuals per capita of any large U.S. city,” Czapary told the Blade. “Our city’s policies must respond to the needs of these communities and support the most vulnerable within them,” he said.

Less than a week before the June 21 primary, it couldn’t be determined whether “progressive” LGBTQ voters in Ward 1 would back Czapary or whether “moderate” LGBTQ voters in Ward 5 would back Parker.

With many political observers saying both Parker and Czapary have a shot at winning, supporters of their opponents have stepped up their opposition campaigns against the two, with Czapary being singled out as a “closet” Republican, an allegation he strongly denies.

Nadeau has pointed out that he did not become a registered Democrat until he filed for his candidacy for the Ward 1 Council seat earlier this year. Czapary says he has been a Democratic leaning independent based on his and his parents’ adherence to the Bahai faith, which shuns political parties.

He told the Blade his parents were far more accepting of him when he came out as gay than when he came out to them as a Democrat. But he said they understood his political beliefs were fully aligned with the Democratic Party.

Nadeau has also cited a Washington City Paper report in May that Czapary earlier this year named as his honorary campaign chairperson the son of a Trump supporter who was associated with a right-wing group that supported Trump’s claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, and that Trump was the true winner.

Czapary told the Blade he immediately dismissed Will Pack as his campaign chair after learning that Pack played a brief role with the ultra-conservative Claremont Institute. He said he met Pack when Pack was a volunteer firefighter and volunteer police officer at the time Czapary worked as a special assistant to D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee.

“My team is very much rooted in the Democratic Party,” said Czapary. “My campaign manager is Steve Schwab who Speaker Pelosi has called an ‘incredible leader,’ who has run a dozen Democratic campaigns,” Czapary told the Blade. “My field director worked for Bernie Sanders and my committee leader worked on both the Obama and Clinton campaigns.”

Observers of the Ward 1 race say Czapary has a shot at winning but his campaign is facing the dilemma that a third candidate running for the Ward 1 seat, ANC Commissioner Sabel Harris, could take away just enough votes from Czapary to enable Nadeau to win with less than 50 percent of the vote, which is what happened when she won her re-election race in 2018.

Nadeau has said LGBTQ issues have been among her highest priorities since taking office in 2015. She told members of Capital Stonewall Democrats at an event for the group’s endorsed candidates last week that she would continue her role as a committed LGBTQ ally.  

The D.C. Board of Elections’ candidates list shows there are just six Republican candidates running in the city’s Republican primary, each of whom is running unopposed. There are no candidates running under the city’s two other political parties – the Statehood Green and Libertarian Party.

Following are the Republican Party candidates:
• DC Congressional Delegate – Nelson Rimensnyder
• DC Mayor – Stacia Hall
• DC Council Chair – Nate Derenge
• DC Council At-Large – Giuseppe Niosi
• DC Council Ward 3 – David Krucoff
• DC Council Ward 5 – Clarence Lee, Jr.
 
Rimensnyder, who has run for the congressional delegate seat in the past, has expressed support for LGBTQ rights. A spokesperson for Hall noted that Hall appeared as guest speaker at a recent meeting of D.C.’s LGBTQ Log Cabin Republicans group but did not provide information about Hall’s positions on specific LGBTQ issues.

Niosi and Krucoff and a small contingent of their supporters marched in the D.C. Capital Pride Parade on June 11. Lee couldn’t immediately be reached to determine his position on LGBTQ issues. Derenge, who ran as a GOP candidate for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat in 2020, received a GLAA rating of -2 at that time.

Adam Savit, the D.C. Log Cabin Republicans president, said the group decided not to endorse any of the unopposed Republican candidates at this time. He said Log Cabin plans to hold a GOP candidate forum in the fall ahead of the November general election.

Longtime D.C. gay Democratic activist Earl Fowlkes, who serves as chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBTQ Caucus, predicts there will be a low voter turnout and far fewer votes cast in the June 21 primary because this year is an “off year,” non-presidential election.

“With all the other things going on – the high gasoline prices and people trying to survive with the inflation, I don’t know if there is a lot of interest in this election,” he said. “And the people I talk to are not really focusing on the election very much because there are other issues they’re dealing with.”

If the voter turnout is low, Fowlkes said, it nearly always gives an advantage to the incumbents, prompting him to predict Mayor Bower, Council Chair Mendelson, and At-Large Council member Bonds will win their respective races.

Mark Lee, coordinator of the D.C. Nightlife Council, a nonprofit trade association representing the city’s restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, including gay bars, said the operators of those establishments have not officially endorsed any candidates running in the June 21 primary. But Lee said many of them are individually backing candidates they feel understand the needs and concerns of their mostly small, neighborhood-based businesses.

“That’s why there is broad small business support across the District for the re-election of Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, and At-Large Council member Anita Bonds,” Lee said. He said many nightlife business operators are also supporting Eric Goulet for the Ward 3 Council seat, Faith Gibson Hubbard for Ward 5 Council, and Salah Czapary for the Ward 1 Council seat.

GLAA ratings trigger controversy  

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA), one of the city’s oldest LGBTQ organizations, last month issued candidate ratings that some critics say favor candidates with left-leaning progressive views unrelated to LGBTQ issues.

GLAA released a statement disputing those claims, saying the issues on which it based its ratings, such as decriminalization of sex work, reallocating funds from the police budget for violence prevention programs, and increased funding for programs for the homeless, will favorably impact LGBTQ people who are experiencing problems that some candidates have not adequately addressed. LGBTQ activists disagree over the impact the GLAA ratings will have on LGBTQ voters.

In the mayoral race, GLAA gave Robert White a rating of +9 out of the highest possible rating of +10. The group gave Bowser a rating of +6 and mayoral candidate Butler a +3 rating. Mayoral contender Trayon White received a “0” rating for failing to return a GLAA candidate questionnaire that the group requires of all candidates it rates. Under its rules, candidates that do not return a completed questionnaire receive an automatic “0” rating.

The group issues its ratings on a scale of +10, the highest rating, to -10, the lowest possible rating. GLAA did not issue ratings for the Congressional Delegate or shadow House seats or for any of the Republican candidates.

Following are GLAA’s candidate ratings:

D.C. Mayor
Robert White — +9
Muriel Bowser — +6
James Butler — +3
Trayon White – 0
 
D.C. Council Chair
Erin Palmer — +8
Phil Mendelson — +6
 
D.C. Council At-Large
Lisa Gore – +8.5
Anita Bonds — +6
Nate Fleming – +5.5
Dexter Williams – +4.5
 
D.C. Council Ward 1
Brianne Nadeau – +9.5
Sabel Harris – +6
Salah Czapary – +4
 
D.C. Council Ward 3
Beau Finley – +7
Deirdre Brown – +6.5
Phil Thomas – +5
Ben Bergmann – +4.5
Tricia Duncan – +4
Matt Frumin – +4
Henry Cohen – 0
Eric Goulet – 0
Monte Monash – 0
 
DC Council – Ward 5
Faith Gibson Hubbard – +7.5
Zachary Parker – +6.5
Gordon Fletcher – 0
Gary To-To Johnson – 0
Kathy Henderson – 0
Art Lloyd – 0
Vincent Orange [No rating given on ethics grounds]
 
D.C. Council Ward 6
Charles Allen — +8.5
 
Attorney General
Bruce Spiva — +6.5
Brian Schwalb — +6
Ryan Jones — +2.5
 
A breakdown of GLAA’s rating scores for each of the candidates and the candidates’ responses to the GLAA questionnaire can be accessed at glaa.org.

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