Allow me to focus this week on a local matter happening here in Philadelphia.
2015 is a mayoral election year here in the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. What that means, for the most part, is that whoever wins the Democratic Mayoral Primary in May typically wins the general election in November . . . Philadelphia is an irrefutable Democratic stronghold.
It is such a stronghold for Democrats that some people will greet the winner as Mayor Elect.
Because of this, QUEERtimes decided to focus this week on the Philadelphia race for mayor so as to help educate our community on the candidates and their positions and relationship with us. We asked all the Democrat mayoral candidates 17 questions and provided ample time to respond. Three candidates responded to all 17 questions and one candidate responded to us that they were too under resourced to answer all 17 questions . . . but more on that later.
QUEERtimes would like to thank Penn. Senator Anthony Williams, Former City Councilmember-at-Large, Jim Kenney, and Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham for taking the time from their busy campaign schedules to answer the QUEERtimes Mayoral Questionnaire and our follow up questions.
Doug Oliver wrote us to that, “Unfortunately, the Doug Oliver Campaign for Mayor, a resource constrained campaign, is not in a position to respond to each of the 17 questions that were asked. Instead, I welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your readership about these and other important issues facing the LGBT community.”
Oliver also wanted us to know at he is “committed to fairness, to inclusion, and to protecting the rights of all Philadelphians. As Mayor, I would work to address issues that concern the LGBT community including employment discrimination, public safety, and a means for the LGBT community’s voice to be heard by City government.”
Nelson Diaz did not respond to our request.
Milton Street could not be contacted by Qt.
But what of those who did?
But only one can win and lead Philadelphia for the next 4 to 8 years. So who will you support?
We asked each responding candidates two follow-up questions which we feel are important to whom these candidates are in relationship to our community.
The first follow-up question asked was, “Who are your past and current advisers on LGBTQ issues?
They responded . . .
Williams: “I have family members who are LGTBQ, and consider Malcolm Lazin, Mel Heifetz, Tony Forte, and Wade Albert as key advisors.”
Kenney: “Alba Martinez is the Chair of my Policy Committee and she advises me on all manner of policy issues including LGBTQ.”
Abraham: “My Campaign Manager, Stuart Rosenberg, is a key advisor on LGBT issues. He was the Midwest Field Director for the Human Rights Campaign from 2006 – 2008. He also was the Campaign Manager for now Massachusetts State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry in 2005. Upon her victory in a special election in March 2005 to the State House, she was the tie-breaking vote to keep an anti-marriage amendment off the Massachusetts ballot. He has also served as the State Field Director for the now first openly gay U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and served as Campaign Manager for openly gay Houston Mayor Annise Parker. Among many in the community who I seek guidance on LGBT issues locally, I consult with Chris Mallios, who served as my Hate Crimes and LGBT Liaison while I was District Attorney, and his husband, Dr. Bill McNett.”
Follow-up question two was, “What would you consider your defining moment when you realized you were an ally of the LGBTQ community?”
They responded . . .
Williams: “When I voted against the ban for same-sex marriage in 1996. I knew then that I had a unique opportunity as a state legislator to promote and advance fairness and equality for everyone, regardless of who they love.”
Kenney: “I fought for domestic partner benefits in the early 1990s. The public outcry from some conservative groups like the Archdiocese and the warm reception I received from the LGBT community made me realize I had found family.”
Abraham: “Since the age of 17, I have been a full supporter of LGBT equality. I have demonstrated my commitment to LGBT equality throughout my life and career. I was a supporter of LGBT equality long before it became popular to do so, and consider myself a pioneer in advancing LGBT equality issues. Whether supporting expansion of the state hate crimes law, supporting full marriage rights, or supporting equality in general, I have always stood alongside my LGBT friends and neighbors. I have been fortunate to have worked with great LGBT leaders. William Way worked with me at the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, where he was a friend and, equally important, an exemplary city planner. John Anderson and I worked literally as desk mates when I was at the District Attorney’s office and I supported his Council candidacy.”
We cannot tell you who the next leader of Philadelphia should be, we just know that we are fortunate to have three candidates who have made it clear they are undeniable allies. Not a bad situation to be in.
But we leave it to you to decide who the next mayor should be. Just know this, this election is going to be close. It’s not going to be a matter of who comes out to vote, it will come down to who they bring with them to vote.
Take some time and read the responses listed below and get to know the candidates so the the best ally is elected this May.