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Trans activist Hughes to run for Stein Club president

Jeri Hughes, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade

Jeri Hughes (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Veteran D.C. transgender activist Jeri Hughes this week announced she is a candidate for president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club in the group’s annual officers’ election scheduled for Nov. 18.

Hughes is the second candidate so far to enter the race for the president’s position. Stein Club Vice President for Legislative and Political Affairs Angela Peoples announced two weeks ago that she was running for president after incumbent President Martin Garcia said he would step down as president and run for the vice presidential seat held by Peoples.

If successful, Hughes would be the first transgender person to serve as the club’s president. Transgender and Democratic Party activist Julius Agars served as the club’s vice president two years ago.

Meanwhile, Stein Club Secretary Jimmie Luthuli announced this week that she is running for the position of vice president for administration. That post is being vacated by incumbent Vincent Paolo Villano, who isn’t running for re-election. As of this week, no one has announced candidacy for the Stein Club treasurer’s position, which is being vacated by gay Democratic activist Barrie Daneker, who also decided not to seek re-election.

“Everyone who knows me knows I’m a fighter who works hard to help the community,” Hughes said. “Whatever the issues are I will fight for them.”

She added, “This has very little to do with Martin and Angela. I want to give the existing members a choice.”

Garcia, Peoples and Vallano ran as a slate in the club’s election last year in opposition to the slate organized by then-Stein Club President Lateefah Williams. Their victory, which caught some of the club’s longtime members by surprise, resulted in a change in leadership and came about after an effort by the then challengers to sign up more than 50 new members supportive of them just days prior to the election.

At the time, Hughes criticized the new group for “stacking” the election, even though she acknowledged their actions were allowed under the club’s bylaws. The club has since changed its bylaws to require prospective members to join the club at least 30 days prior to a club election in order to be eligible to vote.

31
Oct
2013

Stein Club prez to step down, run for veep

Martin Garcia, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, gay news, Washington Blade

Martin Garcia (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In a surprise development, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club President Martin Garcia has announced he will not seek re-election as president and will run instead next month for the club’s position of vice president for legislative and political affairs.

Garcia’s announcement comes nearly one year after he and a slate of candidates he recruited shook up the club’s established order by winning control of three of its five officer positions. In the process the challengers effectively wrested control of the club from its longtime leaders, including then President Lateefah Williams, who lost her re-election bid to Garcia.

“In my tenure as president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, I’ve been humbled by the LGBT leaders here in the city and proud of the work that we’ve been able to do together,” Garcia said in a statement. “We have been able to accomplish a lot in this last year and ensure that the Stein Club remains as influential in the District as it has always been,” he said.

Garcia, an account manager for a D.C.-based political consulting firm that works mostly with progressive Democratic candidates, said he decided to seek the club’s vice presidential post for legislative and political affairs so he could devote more time on the upcoming 2014 D.C. elections.

He said he is endorsing the person he would replace in the vice presidential post, Angela Peoples, in her bid to succeed him as president.

“She has shown outstanding leadership this past year…and I am excited to continue working alongside her to amplify the voice of LGBT Democrats in this city,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vincent Paolo Villano, who won election last year as vice president for administration on Garcia’s slate, has announced he will not run for re-election for that or another officer position at the club’s upcoming election on Nov. 18. And club treasurer Barrie Daneker, who was re-elected last year unopposed by the Garcia slate, also announced he’s not running again for an officer’s post.

Stein Club Secretary Jimmie Luthuli, who also won re-election last year unopposed, said at the club’s Oct. 14 meeting that she plans to run for an officer’s position but hasn’t decided which post to seek.

The vote in the club’s December 2012 election came after Garcia and his supporters recruited close to 50 mostly young LGBT activists to join the club within a week or two prior to the election, with some joining on the day of the election, so they could vote for the Garcia slate. The club has since changed its bylaws to require that people become a member for at least 30 days before being eligible to vote in a club election.

24
Oct
2013

Stein Club ready for future with new leaders

With the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club special meeting and election controversy over and the slate originally elected on Dec. 3 officially reaffirmed as the winners, the club can move to the work it is destined to do — advocate for the LGBT community of D.C.

Although the special meeting and the challenges brought forth may have raised a few eyebrows in the community and seemingly split the club into two factions, its mission was accomplished. Allowing members the opportunity to question, challenge, gain clarification and in some cases vent, the meeting was democracy in action at its best and much needed to help the club move forward.

After all, the club is a democratic organization that thrives on democratic principles. The special meeting allowed members to participate in a democratic process and gain clarity on a number of issues that raised flags of concerns.  I am sure that this will ultimately lead to a revision of the club’s bylaws, which will only help to allow the club to carry out its mission more effectively.

Additionally, the new leadership certainly has brought a lot of positive energy into the group by taking a page out of President Obama’s book and organizing to bring in a diverse group of new members who are “fired up and ready to go!” If you combine this energy with the renewed energy of the club’s existing members, 2013 and beyond is sure to bring great things for the LGBT community in Washington, D.C.

However, there is still a giant elephant in the room – the need of the new leadership to win those over who still doubt their leadership ability. No one is denying that winning over the doubters will not be an easy task. Yet, the challenges that the new leadership will face should not be used as a method of attack before they have had ample time to prove themselves. Countless organizations have had changes in leadership that may have caused a riff in the membership, but they have banned together for the good of the organization and its mission.

The Stein Club members and the community should allow the new leadership the time necessary to do exactly that, especially considering that the one thing that resonated in the special meeting was that there is still work to be done to improve the lives of those in the LGBT community. Yes, there have been great successes in the quest for equality in recent months in Washington, D.C., and across the country but you cannot rest on your laurels when all members of the community are not treated equally.

Among the work that needs to be done is reducing the number of hate crimes plaguing the LGBT community in D.C. This very important issue and others should now be the focus as we prepare to enter into 2013.

The special meeting, challenges and questions about the meeting are now in the past. That chapter has ended and it is time to move onto to a new one. In this new chapter, Martin Garcia, Angela Peoples, Vincent Villano, Barrie Daneker, and Jimmie Luthuli stand posed to lead a club with a rich history and tradition into a new era. This executive board, like those that have come before them, will continue the legacy and be staunch advocates for the LGBT community.

Membership in the organization is growing; fresh ideas are flowing and old and new members are eager to work together. We are “fired up and ready to go!” That’s what every organization wants and we have it. We need to embrace that.

I stand behind the club leadership and am ready to do whatever I can to improve the lives of my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters. Will you join me and do the same?

Jerome Hunt, Ph.D. is the outgoing vice president of administration for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and a researcher specializing in “post-racial” black leaders and the black LGBT community. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of the District of Columbia. Reach him at Jerome.r.hunt@gmail.com or on twitter @jeromehuntphd.

03
Jan
2013