DC queer bar owners oppose ballot initiative to end tip wage system

In a city whose voters, including LGBTQ voters, are overwhelmingly Democratic, DC Democratic elected officials – including Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson – are considered the odds-on favorites to win reelection in the city’s Nov. 8 election.

Among the non-incumbent Democrats expected to win is gay Ward 5 DC Council candidate Zachary Parker, who most political observers say will become the first openly gay member of the DC Council since 2015, when then gay Council members David Catania (I-At- Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) left the Council.

Parker is an elected member of the nonpartisan DC State Board of Education. He won the Ward 5 Democratic primary on June 21 in a hotly contested, seven-candidate race, beating, among others, former Ward 5 Council member Vincent Orange. He is considered the strong favorite against his lesser-known Republican opponent, Clarence Lee, in the Nov. 8 general election.

Two other out gay candidates are also on the Nov. 8 DC election ballot, but they are considered far less likely to win than Parker. Both are running as Libertarian Party candidates. Bruce Majors is running for the DC congressional delegate seat held by longtime incumbent and LGBTQ rights supporter Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who is considered the strong favorite to win reelection. Also running for the congressional delegate seat is Statehood Green Party candidate Natalie Stracuzzi.

The other out gay Libertarian, Adrian Salsgiver, is running for the Ward 3 DC Council seat against Democratic nominee Matthew Frumin and Republican David Krucoff. The Ward 3 seat became open when incumbent Democrat Mary Cheh announced she would not run for reelection. Both Frumin and Krucoff have expressed support for LGBTQ rights.

Bowser, who has a long record of support on LGBTQ issues, is similarly considered the strong favorite to finish ahead of her general election challengers, who include Republican Stacia Hall, Independent Rodney Red Grant, and Libertarian Party candidate Dennis Sobin.

Council Chair Mendelson, also a longtime LGBTQ rights supporter, is considered the favorite to win against his challengers – Republican Nate Darenge and Statehood Green Party candidate Darryl Moch.

In a development that surprised some political observers, the Capital Stonewall Democrats, DC’s largest local LGBTQ political group, endorsed DC Council member Robert White (D-At-Large) against Bowser and Democratic challenger Erin Palmer against Mendelson in the June 21 Democratic primary.

A short time after the primary, when Bowser and Mendelson emerged as the clear winners, Capital Stonewall Democrats endorsed Bowser, Mendelson, and the Democratic nominees in all of the other races.

Among the other races is the contest for two at-large DC Council seats, which has emerged as the only race in which the outcome is considered uncertain in the Nov. 8 DC general election. And some political observers believe the LGBTQ vote could be the decisive factor in determining the two winners in that race.

Under the city’s Home Rule Charter approved by Congress in the early 1970s, two of the city’s four at-large Council members must belong to a non-majority political party or be an independent.

Longtime LGBTQ rights supporter Anita Bonds holds the Democratic seat up for election this year. The other seat is held by independent incumbent Elisa Silverman, who has also been a strong supporter on LGBTQ issues. Six others are competing for the two seats, with voters having the option of voting for two of the eight contenders.

They include Democrat-turned-independent Kenyan McDuffie, who currently holds the Ward 5 DC Council seat; Republican Giuseppe Niosi, who, along with his wife and child, rode in DC’s Capital Pride Parade in June; Statehood Green Party candidate David Schwartzman; and independent candidates Graham McLaughlin, Fred Hill, and Karim Marshall. McDuffie has a record of support for LGBTQ rights on the Council and the others have each expressed support for LGBTQ rights.

McLaughlin, a former corporate manager and small business advocate, has said he has worked with LGBTQ organizations, including the Trevor Project, in his role as an advocate for homeless youth.

The Capital Stonewall Democrats have endorsed Bonds for reelection but decided not to make an endorsement for the non-Democrat seat, saying to do so would be backing someone running against Democrat Bonds.

In addition to the Ward 3 and Ward 5 Council races, DC Council seats in Wards 2 and 6 are up for election on Nov. 8. In the Ward 1 race, incumbent Democrat Brianne Nadeau, a longtime LGBTQ rights supporter, is considered the strong favorite over Statehood Green Party challenger Chris Otten.

Capital Stonewall Democrats endorsed Nadeau in both the Nov. 8 general election and in the June primary when out gay Democrat and former DC police officer Salah Czapary challenged her.

LGBTQ activists who supported Czapary said the LGBTQ voters who backed Nadeau over Czapary based their decision clearly on non-LGBTQ issues – just as most LGBTQ voters are expected to continue to do on Nov. 8 in a city where all candidates with any chance of winning support LGBT rights.

In the case of the Nadeau-Czapary rivalry, Nadeau is considered to be among the progressive-left faction of the Democratic Party, with Czapary falling into the moderate Democratic faction. With the Democratic Party dominating DC politics, the liberal left versus moderate factions appears to be the dividing line in DC Democratic primaries.

The remaining Council seat up for election this year is in Ward 6, where incumbent Democrat Charles Allen, yet another longtime LGBTQ rights supporter, is running unopposed on Nov. 8.

In the sometimes-overlooked race for the position of US Representative to Congress, which is widely referred to as DC’s “shadow” US House seat, incumbent Democrat Oye Owolewa is considered the favorite over Statehood Green Party challenger Joyce Robinson-Paul. Capital Stonewall Democrats have endorsed Owolewa, who has expressed support for LGBTQ rights.

The shadow House position, which has no congressional powers, was created in an amendment to the DC home rule charter as a position to lobby Congress for DC statehood and DC congressional voting rights.

In the race for DC Attorney General, Democrat Brian Schwalb, who won the Democratic primary in June, is running unopposed in the Nov. 8 general election. He, too, has expressed support for LGBTQ rights issues.

Longtime DC gay Democratic activist Earl Fowlkes, who serves as executive director of the DC-based national LGBTQ advocacy group Center for Black Equity, is among those who have said DC’s LGBTQ residents sometimes don’t appreciate the supportive political climate of the local DC government .

“One of the incredible things that’s happened in DC in the last 27 years I’ve been here is the fact that LGBTQ+ issues have been brought to the forefront and there is a universal agreement among almost anyone running for any position or office that they have to be strong in supporting LGBTQ+ issues,” Fowlkes told the Blade.

“This is one of the great places in the world to live in,” he said. “And thanks to our political system and the people who run for office who understand and have their finger on the pulse of the community, LGBTQ people are considered equal citizens in the District,” Fowlkes said. “And there’s a lot of places in this country not far from here who can’t say that.”

In races that traditionally have been nonpartisan, seats on the DC State Board of Education are up for election on Nov. 8 for Wards 1, 3, 5, and 6. The Capital Stonewall Democrats have not taken a position on Board of Education candidates.

And the DC Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA), which rates candidates for mayor, DC Council, and Attorney General, does not issue ratings for school board candidates, nor does it rate candidates for congressional delegate or the shadow House seat.

Founded in 1971, GLAA is a nonpartisan, all volunteer LGBTQ advocacy group that bills itself as the nation’s oldest, continuously operating LGBTQ organization. It has been rating local DC candidates since the 1970s on a rating scale of -10 to +10, which is the highest possible rating score showing strong support for LGBTQ equality.

But in the past year it has received criticism from some local LGBTQ activists for basing its ratings on mostly non-LGBTQ specific issues that critics say represent a progressive left viewpoint.

Among the issues the group asks all candidates to take a position on in a required 10-question questionnaire it sends to candidates are decriminalization of sex work, reallocating funds from the police budget for violence prevention programs, support for affordable housing programs for low-income residents, and support for removing criminal penalties for illegal drug possession for personal use.

Other questions in the GLAA questionnaire ask candidates about whether LGBTQ people should have access to a housing voucher program, increasing funding for the Office of Human Rights, which enforces nondiscrimination laws pertaining to LGBTQ people, and whether the city’s tipped minimum wage law should be repealed. .

The tipped wage law is the subject of an initiative on the Nov. 8 DC election ballot called Initiative 82, which calls for repealing the lower minimum wage for tipped workers and raising it to the full DC minimum wage.

GLAA President Tyrone Hanley has said important so-called non-LGBTQ issues such as affordable housing impact LGBTQ people just as they impact all others, and it’s important to ask candidates running for public office to take a stand on those issues.

The group in October released its numerical ratings along with the responses to its questionnaire for 14 candidates that returned the questionnaire, including Mayor Bowser, who assigned the group a +6 rating. For 10 candidates that did not return the questionnaire, GLAA assigned a “0” rating.

Below is a list of the candidates that GLAA has rated along with their ratings. Also below is a link to the group’s explanation for why it issued its specific rating scores and to the questionnaire responses from the 14 candidates that returned the GLAA questionnaire.

Major DC
Muriel Bowser (D) – +6
Rhonda Hamilton (I) Write-In candidate — +4
Stacia Hall (R) – 0
Dennis Sobin (Libertarian) – 0
Rodney Red Grant (L)—0

DC Council Chair
Phil Mendelson (R) +6
Nate Derenge (R) – 0
Darry Moch (Statehood Green) – 0

DC Council At-Large
Elissa Silverman (I) — +7
Kenyan McDuffie (I) — +6.5
Anita Bonds (D) — +6
David Schwartzman (Statehood Green) +6
Graham McLaughlin (I) — +5
Karim Marshall (I) — +4
Giuseppe Niosi (R) – 0
Fred Hill (L) – 0

D.C. Council Ward 1
Brianne Nadeau (D) — +9.5
Chris Otten (Statehood Green) – 0

DC Council Ward 5
Zachary Parker (D) +6.5
Clarence Lee (R) – 0

DC Council Ward 6
Charles Allen (D) +8.5

DC Attorney General
Brian Schwalb (D) +6

Copies of the candidates’ GLAA questionnaire responses and GLAA’s explanation for why it issued specific ratings for the candidates can be accessed here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button