Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Online extra: Political Note: Milk Club set to elect first co-presidents


David Waggoner will likely become Milk Club co-president
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At its meeting Tuesday night (January 26) the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club is expected to elect its first pair of co-presidents as well as the first transgender woman to lead the progressive queer political group.

Taking advantage of a newly enacted change to the club's bylaws, David Waggoner, the current vice president for internal affairs, and longtime Milk clubber Denise D'Anne have teamed up to run as a male and female co-chair ticket. Up until now only one person could serve as president of the group.

D'Anne, 76, last served on the Milk Club board some 10 years ago and had been its secretary at one point. She has twice mounted failed bids for supervisor, in 1998 and 2000, and became the city's first transgender commissioner when she was appointed to the Building Inspection Commission in the early 2000s.

"When it comes to ... trying to push progressive ideas out there, I am there. One of the features of the president of the club should be to get out there," said D'Anne when asked why she decided to run for the post.

Waggoner, who turned 35 on January 21, lost his bid last year to become the club's treasurer. He has been a member of the club since 2005, and six months ago, stepped in to fill a vacancy on the executive board.

He said he wanted to lead the Milk Club during what will be a key election year for local progressives, with even-numbered supervisor seats up for grabs as well as control of the local Democratic Party apparatus.

"I think the club has been the conscience for the Democratic Party the last 30 years. As president I want to honor that legacy and grow the club and continue to push a progressive agenda in San Francisco in 2010," said Waggoner, who helped organize last year's Milk Club annual awards dinner.

Up until last weekend Waggoner had been considered the front-runner in the race and planned to run alone for the presidency. He had the backing of current Milk Club President Rafael Mandelman , who is stepping down after serving two one-year terms in order to focus on his bid to be the next District 8 supervisor in the fall elections.

During an interview last week Waggoner downplayed his being the sure fire winner of this week's election match-up.

"I think Denise is a competitive and formidable candidate," said Waggoner. "I don't see myself so much as running against Denise as we are both running for the presidency of the Milk Club."

But after meeting with D'Anne Sunday night, the two one-time opponents decided to run as a team rather than fight it out for the presidency.

"We made the decision after numerous conversations with each other, past club presidents and other members," Waggoner said in an e-mail to the Bay Area Reporter Sunday night. "Denise has an outstanding record of community service and leadership on a variety of issues, and I really look forward to working with and learning from her."

D'Anne said the two determined that they both have lengthy agendas for the club and having a dual-presidency would be a benefit.

"We determined we have ambitious issues for the club and maybe it is time for two co-presidents to get the work done that we would like to get done," she said. "It is going to take a lot of effort, and I think two people would be a good thing to have at this time."

The selection of Waggoner, a local attorney who last year lost his bid for a vacancy on the San Francisco Police Commission, as heir apparent to the club's top leadership post had brought complaints by D'Anne about gender bias and transphobia among some members of the club, whom she accused of trying to push her out of the election.

The selection of a sole male president would have prolonged a years-long drought of having a woman serve as Milk club president. The last time the club's members elected a female president was in 2002.

"I agree with her that there has been problems getting women into leadership positions in the club," said Mandelman. "I have worked on the issue and so have others. I am glad she stepped forward and they have found a way to do this together."

The club has elected a transgender person, labor activist Robert Haaland, as its president in the past. Yet D'Anne said she had felt pressure from some club members not to enter the race and believes her age and her gender status were being seen negatively.

Prior to her teaming up with Waggoner, D'Anne acknowledged in an interview last week that she had "an uphill battle" to become president.

"I am not sure if it is either my age or my being transgender. I have a suspicion people find it difficult to understand transgender people. Some gay people don't get it, I think," she said.

She also pointed to the fact that the club usually anoints its next president and that the few people who have mounted campaigns against that person rarely a

Denise D'Anne is set to become Milk Club co-president
re successful. Last year Shona Gochenaur, a bisexual woman and medical pot activist, failed in her bid to unseat Mandelman as president. D'Anne hopes her election will encourage more women to seek the presidency.

"Usually they hand pick a president and say here you go," said D'Anne, who is still active in the local labor movement and owns a tax preparation business. "Going forward it should be an encouragement to get more women to become involved. I think it will help other women to jump in and become president alone or not."

Last year the club changed its bylaws to allow for electing male and female co-chairs rather than a single president should two people decide to run together. The two candidates had initially ruled out a running together as they are unfamiliar with one another.

"As far as I know he has only been in the club one year. I had never met him until recently," said D'Anne, who had approached Waggoner weeks ago about possibly running as co-chairs.

 Waggoner said he initially ruled it out since he doesn't know D'Anne very well. Several people in the club had also advised him that it was not the time to experiment with the club's leadership structure, he said.

"This is the first year of the Milk Club electing co-chairs; it has never been done before. It has been suggested to me now is not the time given the important elections coming up this year," he said.

Yet the two overcame their differences and are now set to become the Milk Club's first pair of co-presidents. Unless a surprise candidate emerges prior to Tuesday night's vote, the club's members can only vote for Waggoner and D'Anne as a team.

"Denise has an amazing history with the club and San Francisco politics, and I think, David has a lot of really good ideas for the club," said Mandelman. "So I think they could be a really good team."

The only contested seat on the club's executive board is for the vice president internal position, which is being sought by both Larry Cohen and deputy public defender Douglas Welch.

The other slate of candidates up for election tomorrow night and running unopposed include defeated school board candidate Bobbi Lopez for vice president external; former Supervisor David Campos aide Linnette Peralta Haynes for vice president political; Hemlock Tavern employee Jenette Lanning for recorder; and Milk Club board member Michael Lee for treasurer.

The Milk Club meets at 7 p.m. at the Women's Building, 3543 18th Street.

SF Log Cabin reboots

The local chapter of the national gay Log Cabin Republican group has re-launched and is hosting monthly mixers for those LGBT GOPers in the city by the bay.

"Log Cabin is back in San Francisco!" wrote chapter president Dan Brown in an email message. "Beginning January 27, the fourth Wednesday of every month will be a casual mixer for you to get to know your fellow LGBT GOPers better."

Considering the upset victory last week by Republican Scott Brown to take the Senate seat in Massachusetts long held by the late Edward Kennedy, and California Republicans' increasing confidence they can defeat Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer as well as hang on to the governorship, this week's event will likely have a celebratory feel to it.

Log Cabin first formed in San Francisco in the 1970s. Its local chapter, though, hasn't been active since 2006. Brown, who was involved with the group in Los Angeles prior to moving to London in 2005, moved to the city two years ago and decided to re-launch the San Francisco chapter.

"We are just kind of restarting," said Brown. "We feel it is important to get it back up and running in its original home."

The first get-together will be in the upstairs library bar at Taverna Aventine in the shadow of the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco's Financial District. Scott Schmidt, president of Los Angeles Log Cabin Republicans, is expected to attend.

The free event with no host bar takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday night. The restaurant is located at 582 Washington Street.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail

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