With a record number of LGBTQ candidates running for office this year, Liberty City Democratic Club had its work cut out for it.
And after months of poring over candidate questionnaires and the last couple weeks of hosting the political hopefuls, the club has released its endorsements for the May 21 primary election.
In perhaps the LGBT community’s most closely watched contest, LCDC voted to endorse incumbent Second District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson over LGBT challenger Lauren Vidas.
The club cited concerns over Vidas’ background as a paid lobbyist — a controversial decision that led to a robust conversation among some members.
When asked about the controversial decision, Liberty City Co-Chair Alexander Olson explained the endorsement process.
“Our endorsement committee puts many, many volunteer hours into choosing who they believe the best candidates are for office in the Philadelphia region, and have decades of experience with this responsibility. After reviewing the record, they chose to recommend that the general body endorse Vidas given her strong credentials and record of service to the community,” said Olson.
“But our endorsement committee does not have the final say. Given that we are a democratic organization, we make sure all endorsements are reviewed and voted upon by the membership. The membership voted three-to-one to endorse Kenyatta Johnson for the seat.”
In the crowded City Council-at-large race, endorsements went to transwoman Deja Lynn Alvarez who got the nod over out candidate Adrian Rivera Reyes.
“Adrian and Deja both have powerful life stories that would empower them to have successful careers in City Council,” said Olson.
“That being said, Deja’s years of impassioned and effective service to the community are what pushed the endorsement committee in her direction.”
“We loved Adrian, and it was thrilling to have such a difficult decision before us, and are disappointed we did not have the ability to recommend more people. Although the organization did not endorse him, I will personally be voting for him.”
ckground For Common Pleas Judge, both out candidates, Henry Sias and Tiffany Palmer, were given endorsements — a decision that came without much controversy.
While the Club prioritizes openly LGBT candidates, being out does not grant a candidate a coveted LCDC endorsement automatically. The slate of issues LCDC inquires about is extensive, and one’s sexual orientation is only one factor considered. Also, prominent local politicians favored by the local Democratic Party organization are frequently passed over when the Club’s membership finds the candidate’s support of the LGBTQ community wanting.
LCDC’s debate and voting process is private, open only to club members, and not open to the press.
Here is the full list of Liberty City endorsements:
MAYOR: Jim Kenney
CITY COMMISSIONER: Lisa Deeley and Kahlil Williams
SHERIFF: Rochelle Bilal
COUNCIL AT LARGE: Deja Lynn Alvarez, Helen Gym, Erika Almirón, Derek Green, and Justin DiBerardinis
DISTRICT COUNCIL: Mark Squilla (1st District), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), and Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez (7th District)
SUPERIOR COURT JUSTICE: Dan McCaffery
COMMON PLEAS JUDGE: Nicola Serianni, Wendi Barish, Anthony Kyriakakis, Henry Sias, and Tiffany Palmer
MUNICIPAL COURT JUDGE: David Conroy