Jun 4, 2012

LGBT Democrats of Virginia PAC Endorses Six for Alexandria City Council Democratic Primary

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LGBT Democrats of VirginiaThe LGBT Democrats of Virginia PAC today announced the endorsement of the following six candidates for nomination to the Alexandria City Council:

Paul Smedberg
Sean Holihan
Justin Wilson
Sammie Moshenberg
John Chapman
Del Pepper

The primary election will be on Tuesday, June 12, and voters are allowed to vote for up to 6 candidates. There are 14 Democrats running for the 6 slots.

In explaining their endorsements, the PAC emphasized both the records and backgrounds of the candidates:

Paul Smedberg’s support for LGBT rights isn’t just a political position; as one of Virginia’s first and longest-serving openly-gay elected officials, it’s also a personal matter. He serves our community well as a role model – as someone who can be seen as a leader of the entire city, not just a “token gay representative.” We are proud to endorse him once again and look forward to his continued leadership on the Council.

Sean Holihan is likewise an openly-gay candidate who hasn’t allowed his sexual orientation to either define him or restrict his options. He has demonstrated an ability to lead on LGBT issues, having served on the Board of Virginia Partisans and as chairman of Equality Virginia’s PAC Board. He has also shown leadership on a broader range of issues through his service as president of Virginia Young Democrats and now on the staff of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. We are proud to support Sean in this new role.

Justin Wilson has shown his support for LGBT rights in numerous ways over the years, not least of which is his membership in Virginia Partisans as a straight ally. In various positions he has held, he has been able to work successfully on issues we care about related to schools, jails/prisons, and more. With a younger sister who came out to him 15 years ago, his approach to LGBT rights is that while it’s “the right thing to do, it’s also a personal commitment to my family.” We are excited for Justin’s return to public service and look forward to his continued leadership on these issues of critical importance.

Sammie (Samantha) Moshenberg has spent over 25 years as an activist for social justice – a commitment that has included LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS issues. Her involvement in the repeal of DADT and enactment of hate crimes legislation earned her invitations to the bill signings for both of those laws and an award from a national transgender rights group; with this endorsement. It is for this work and her dedication to equality and justice that the PAC is proud to join Sammie’s list of supporters.

John Taylor Chapman is the current chairman of the Alexandria Chapter, NAACP. He is also a former chair of Alexandria’s HIV/AIDS Commission. As an educator, he has been very supportive of Gay-Straight Alliances, a position he has held since his college days. John is a role model for our students and community, and we look forward to working with him in this new leadership position.

Del Pepper is the longest-serving incumbent on Council, and one of only 2 Democratic incumbents seeking re-election. Her support on LGBT issues goes back to 1988, when she voted to amend Alexandria’s Human Rights ordinance to include sexual orientation. Del is a dedicated public servant and we are proud to endorse her once again.

In making these endorsements, the LGBT Democrats of Virginia PAC noted that all 14 Democratic candidates in the primary are supportive of LGBT rights and most have strong records reflecting that support.

“It’s a shame that only 6 can be elected,” said Tom Osborne, Treasurer. “The bottom line is this: you can’t go wrong by voting for any of the 14 Democratic candidates. Our endorsements are merely an attempt to pick out of the group those who appear to be most passionate about our rights, those who are likely to be most effective in promoting them, and pursuing a balanced and representative Council that is concerned not just with our rights, but those of other minorities as well.”

Of the other eight candidates:

Vicky Menjivan says, “I am a Latina who struggles for the rights of all oppressed people. That is who I am and why I am running for office.” Over the years, she has participated in marches for women’s rights, LGBT rights, civil rights, and against police abuses. We have no doubt that Vicky will continue to be a leader on this issues regardless of the results of this election and look forward to working with her in the future.

Arthur Peabody, Jr. is currently a member of Alexandria’s school board, where he has supported Gay-Straight Alliances, age-appropriate sex education, and an on-campus health clinic in the high school that offers non-judgmental care. He has had a lengthy career dedicated to fighting for civil rights, in the civil rights division of the Justice Department and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Tim Lovain served on City Council from 2006 to 2009, and we endorsed him in both of those general elections. He has worked with the LGBT community in several ways, primarily through the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry.

Melissa Feld has been a supporter of LGBT rights at least since her college days in Canada, when she served as a judge for Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade. She has a long record of working for progressive Democrats on Capitol Hill, most recently on the staff of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) where she drafted a provision to ensure that Senate staffers with same-sex partners received equal treatment with their heterosexual married counterparts.

Allison Silberberg has spent more than 20 years as an advocate for civil justice, and has been a significant fundraiser for Food & Friends, Whitman-Walker Clinic, and other AIDS-related organizations. She refers to LGBT rights as “the civil rights issue of our time.”

Michael Hepburn served as Student Government Association president where he provided support to LGBT groups on campus and worked to end inappropriate hazing (a form of bullying), among other things. He says, “Fighting for non-discrimination isn’t just something I do, it’s what I am.”

Boyd Walker has been a supporter of diversity and equality since he first started to grammar school, when he attended the first integrated private school in the state.

Donna Fossum has marched for LGBT rights and still proudly displays her “Straight but Not Narrow” button from one of them.

All candidates seeking the endorsement of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia PAC are required to submit questionnaires. More information on endorsements, including submitted questionnaires from candidates and the list of currently endorsed candidates, can be found online at www.lgbtvadem.org/endorsements.