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    LGBT Service Members, Alice News, and a DCCC Loophole that Should Be Fixed

    Zoe Dunning

    Zoe Dunning

    Remembering Air Force Major Adrianna Vorderbruggen

    Last month I wrote about the military opening up all job fields to women. In that column, published December 17, I commented: “One of the strongest arguments for opening up all roles is that, in reality, women have been facing combat situations for years.” Unfortunately, that was vividly demonstrated when we heard the news four days later of the death of Air Force Major Adrianna Vorderbruggen at the hands of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. She is the first openly lesbian U.S. service member to die in combat operations. She died one day before the 5-year anniversary of the signing of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) Repeal Act.

    Adrianna was an Air Force Academy graduate and a dedicated officer. She leaves behind her wife, Heather Lamb (a veteran herself), and their four-year-old son, Jacob. She was accorded full military honors during her interment at Arlington National Cemetery on January 19. Vorderbruggen was posthumously awarded three of the military’s most prestigious combat decorations: the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.

    Adrianna and her wife were very active with the Military Partners and Families Coalition, and worked on the repeal of DADT and efforts to grant families of all service members the same rights and benefits. The loss of Major Vorderbruggen is a sad reminder that we still have service members, and LGBT service members, serving in harm’s way overseas. Let’s get them all home safely.

    Lou Fischer Is the New Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club Co-Chair

    In local political news, my term as Co-Chair of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club ended on January 11. The new female Co-Chair of Alice is long-time board member Lou Fischer. Lou has served on the board for over eleven years, and has held nearly every major leadership role—co-chairing the Field, the Finance, and the PAC Committees. She understands the club and San Francisco politics inside and out, and will bring her strong organizing skills and wicked sense of humor to her new role. She and Brian Leubitz have a big year ahead, as the club has already endorsed Scott Wiener for State Senate in what will be the biggest local race of 2016. Also in November there will be six Supervisor races following the DCCC elections on June 7.

    DCCC ‘Double Dippers’ and a Loophole that Needs Addressing

    The DCCC race will be an interesting one. From all available information, it appears no incumbent is stepping aside, leaving no open seats. Already in Assembly District 17 there are 21 candidates that have filed their initial paperwork for the 14 seats. In District 19 there are 11 filers for 10 seats and we still have until March 11 for additional candidates to enter. Some of the more notable new names are Supervisor Norman Yee, Cindy Wu (the Rose Pak handpicked candidate for D3 who did not get the Mayor Lee appointment), City College Trustee Brigitte Davila, and Arlo Hale Smith (who has been on the DCCC for many, many years but had to step down when he moved from AD19 to AD17). Since the long list of candidates on the ballot is essentially an exercise in name recognition, both the moderate and progressive camps are reaching out to well known current and former elected officials and asking them to run. Rumors are swirling about who will throw their hat into the ring.

    Which brings up a complaint I hear, and one I share. Fundamentally, the DCCC is supposed to be about local Democratic Party activists who dedicate time and energy to strengthen the party—voter registration, fundraising, volunteering for key state and federal campaigns to do phone banking and precinct walking, and endorsing candidates that represent “Democratic Party values.” Unfortunately, in San Francisco it has become all about the power to endorse. As a result, elected seats on the DCCC are increasingly being filled with well-known current and former elected officials who can easily get elected to the DCCC, but often don’t have the time to do anything other than show up for the monthly meetings (if that). In fact, there was a period of time when we had six current supervisors on the DCCC this last term, and they couldn’t have all six show up for any meeting without triggering a Brown Act violation. They had to plan for one of them not to show up!

    Another benefit to the “double dipper”—someone who runs for DCCC and holds another elected position—is they can use their DCCC campaign funds as a sort of marketing slush fund. It’s no coincidence that many of those running for office in the fall are also running for DCCC. There are no fundraising limits for DCCC campaigns. This means someone running for Supervisor in November can accept a $10,000 check for their DCCC race and use the publicity from the DCCC campaign to help elevate their visibility and name recognition in their district before the Supervisor race. It’s a loophole that should be addressed. In 2010, Mayor Newsom put a proposition on the ballot to prohibit city and county elected officials from serving on party political committees, but it was defeated. It may be time to relook at this after we see how this summer’s race unfolds.

    Have your voice heard! Make sure your voter registration is up to date, in case you have moved recently. You can do it online or by mail. It’s one of the most important, and most underutilized, rights we have.

    Zoe Dunning is a retired Navy Commander and was a lead activist in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She recently served as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club. She currently serves as the 1st Vice Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party and as a San Francisco Library Commissioner.