Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Milk club VP intends to nominate own slate for 2016 board election

Milk club VP Mahnani Clay is nominating her own slate of 2016 board candidates.

Milk club VP Mahnani Clay is nominating her own slate of 2016 board candidates.

A vice president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club intends to nominate her own slate of candidates for the 2016 board election, setting up a contested leadership fight for the progressive political group in quite some time.

The club is set to vote tonight (Tuesday, January 19) on its leadership positions for the next 12 months. It is a key year politically, with control of the city’s Democratic Party up for grabs on the June primary ballot and progressives fighting to retain their one-vote majority on the Board of Supervisors in November when the odd-numbered seats are all up for re-election.

As the Bay Area Reporter‘s Political Notebook reported last week, the Milk club’s current male co-president, Peter Gallotta, is seeking re-election to lead the club alone due to, he has said, being unable to recruit a female member to serve alongside him as co-president.

The club’s current female co-president, Laura Thomas, decided not to seek a third term this year. Gallotta has noted that the slate he has put forward includes 10 women out of 19 total positions, which would mark an increase in female board members.

But Gallotta and Thomas have come under fire from some club members, particularly for their handling of the endorsement in last year’s sheriff’s race. After supporters of former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi pushed to hold a second vote after the club initially failed to endorse anyone in the sheriff’s race, the club co-presidents announced they would not allow the re-endorsement vote to proceed.

After members of the club pushed through a second re-vote on the endorsement, Mirkarimi secured Milk’s support in the race, which he ended up losing. The episode continues to dog Gallotta as he seeks a second term as club president.

This afternoon the club’s vice president of political affairs, Mahnani Clay, revealed to the B.A.R. that she would be nominating a different slate of board candidates for club members to vote on. She would like to see attorney David Waggoner return as the club’s male co-president and Kin Folkz serve in the female co-president position.

She said that Gallotta had rejected her offer to run alongside him for the co-president position and then also refused to include Folkz on his slate.

“I presented, recruited Kin Folkz and suggested to Peter that they run together. He immediately declined without consideration,” Clay told the B.A.R. “Since he had already rejected my own offer to run with him as co-president last month, I was dismayed and concerned about the imbalance a white cis gay male presiding alone would likely create.”

Clay would like to be elected as an at-large member of the board this year. As for Gallotta, her slate has him in the club’s vice president internal position.

Noting he has dedicated the past five years to the club, Gallotta told the B.A.R. that he is “hopeful” he will have club members support for his re-election as president.

“This is the first I am hearing of anyone running against the current nominated candidates. I appreciate varying opinions in the club, that is democracy at work,” he said. “We nominated the current slate back in December at the holiday party … so I am frankly a little surprised now the day of election there is news of another slate or more candidates are running.”

Gallottta said that Folkz never contacted him directly about running as co-president, and that the first he heard about such a possibility was Saturday when Clay contacted him.

“I respect Kin immensely but I don’t know her personally,” he said. “She has not been very active in the Harvey Milk club. I did not feel at this point in time I could make a different decision.”

Kin Folkz, nee Monica Anderson, has been nominated to be the next female co-president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.

Kin Folkz, nee Monica Anderson, has been nominated to be the next female co-president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.

Folkz, whose given name is Monica Anderson, is a black and indigenous Choctaw two-spirit queer woman. She also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to a statement Folkz posted online, “As a 3rd generation human rights activist with cultivated, deep ties to a diverse set of social justice communities, I am delighted to have been nominated for the position of co-president of the Harvey Milk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Democratic Club. I particularly welcome the opportunity to collaborate with other progressive thinkers and change-makers to continue the work to create equity by bringing the concerns of marginalized TLGBQIA voices to the table – not just as superficial advisers – but as respected co-leaders and knowledgeable stakeholders.”

Reached via instant message on Facebook, Waggoner told the B.A.R. he did not have time this year to lead the club due to personal obligations.

“I am flattered to be nominated. I love the club and it will always be my political home. However, I must respectfully decline the nomination due to other commitments this year. I wish the board the very best,” he wrote.

He added that, “At a time when much of the country is having a long overdue conversation about racial justice, and just a day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I hope the club will support the leadership of people of color.”

Depending on how the vote goes, Mahnani said she hopes Waggoner would reconsider if a majority of club members wishes to see him serve again as president. Barring that, she indicated those upset with the current leadership have a “plan C” in mind.

Gallotta defended the slate the board has put forward, arguing it includes a diverse set of people of color and women.

“There is representation on this slate that has not been represented in years,” he said. “It is important for the club to have a range of experiences and identities and skills.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 19, 2016 @ 3:57 pm PST
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