In a city like Washington, DC, where everything seems to be about politics–at least of the national variety–it is surprising to learn how uninformed and immature we can be when it comes to voting at the local level.
The fact that many DC voters are confused by man’s middle initial and last name tells you that the body politic has not done its homework. The confusion around the candidates in the Democratic Primary for an At-Large Council seat has befuddled voters ready to hand Michael D. Brown a victory on September 14 (see The Washington Post poll numbers). Why? They think D. is actually Michael A. Brown, who is not even running for anything in this election cycle.
Michael A. Brown is, obviously, a very popular At-Large member of the DC Council; he will be up for re-election in 2012. And, of course, you should not confuse either of them with At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown who is favored to win the Democratic Primary for DC Council Chairman. This begs the question: Do some voters think they’re somehow supporting Kwame Brown when they say they are for D.?
D. is running against incumbent Phil Mendelson and Clark Ray. Until recently it was assumed that Ray was the main challenger to Mendelson, a three-term incumbent. Then, D. won a straw poll vote among Democrats in Ward 5 and coming very close in Ward 4. Remember that these are the party faithful, the committed and knowledgeable ones, who turn out to vote in straw polls.
Suddenly, the city–the ones paying attention, anyway–realized the level of confusion among voters between D. and A.
However, D. does hold an elected office, that of District “shadow senator,” an official position with no responsibilities beyond advocating for DC’s rights. According to Wikipedia, “Brown lobbies the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives on behalf of the citizens of the District in their attempt to gain full representation in Congress, self-determination, and eventually admittance to the union as a state. As shadow senator, Brown also works with the District’s delegate, mayor, and council to advance the interest of local residents on Federal issues. Brown is a member of the Democratic Party.”
How bad is our collective stupidity? The Washington Post ran the results of a poll that showed candidates Mendelson and Ray–who have worked hard to win votes–will likely lose to D. unless voters figure it out between now and September 14. The Post poll has D. at 38%, Mendelson at 21% and Ray at 7%. The numbers for D. are good citywide–he leads in all areas of DC except Wards 2 and 3 where he is still pulling 27% and trails Mendelson by only 5 points.
In the interest of full disclosure, the two editors here at Borderstan are supporting Ray (as we have noted before). We have known him for a number of years and believe he would be a better councilmember than Mendelson. Having said that, wouldn’t it be embarrassing for DC if D. were to defeat Mendelson due to nothing more than voter laziness? Of course, this would not be the first time DC has been the butt of jokes due to its local politics; the mention of Marion Barry still draws raucous laughter beyond the Beltway.
No disrespect to D.–he is probably a fine man–but winning on the basis of confusion is not a stellar way to make your way upward in politics. Of course, you have also have to hand it to D.; If he wins, he will have spent little money and effort to win a DC Council seat.
Shame on us–not on D.
A candidate forum this evening at 12th and U NW will feature candidates in two high-profile races in the September 14 Democratic primary.
Council Chairman. Invited candidates for the DC Council chairman spot are Kwame Brown and Vincent Orange as well as Dorrothy Douglas and Ann Wilcox. (See the results of Borderstan’s reader poll.)
At-Large Council seat. Candidates in the at-large race are incumbent Phil Mendelson and his main challenger, Clark Ray, as well as Michael D. Brown.
Location is the True Reformer Building (Marsh Conference Room) at 1200 U Street NW. The meet-and-greet starts at 6 pm with the program running from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Tonight’s forum is sponsored by DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, DC Jobs Council, DC Jobs with Justice, Defeat Poverty DC, District Alliance for Safe Housing, Empower DC, Fair Budget Coalition, Latino Economic Development Corporation, Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and Wider Opportunities for Women.
Full disclosure: Borderstan’s editors are supporting Ray in his Council bid. We knew him prior to launching Borderstan.com.
The Clark Ray campaign is holding a meet-the-candidate event at Local 16 Lounge on Wednesday evening, 6 to 8 pm. Local 16 is at the southwest corner of 16th and U Streets NW.
Ray is running for an At-Large DC Council seat against incumbent Phil Mendelson in the September 14 Democratic Primary. Remember that DC primary elections are closed–you have to be registered in a party in order to vote in its primary. The three DC political parties with primaries are Democratic, Republican and Statehood Green.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave Clark Ray her endorsement at a fundraiser Monday evening in Georgetown. Ray is running for an At-Large DC Council seat against incumbent Phil Mendelson in the September 14 Democratic Primary. Of Ray, Albright said:
I rarely endorse in primaries and this is only the second time I am doing it this year. I believe it is essential that we elect people of Clark Ray’s caliber and integrity to government. I know of his work with the Clinton/Gore administration and his commitment to the people of the District.
During the Clinton administration, Ray worked for Tipper Gore during husband Al’s years as vice president. Albright is now a professor of International Relations at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.
In addition, Albright’s sister, Kathy Silva is a supporter of dog parks. The connection? During his time as head of DC Parks and Recreation, Ray was credited with pushing forward three new dog parks in DC: 17th Street NW, 11th Street NW and one under construction in upper Northwest near Silva’s home.
Mike DeBonis (formerly of Washington City Paper) has a recap of the Ray event over at Post’s D.C. Wire, Debonis’ new gig. The Georgetown Dish blog also has more details. There are also event photos online.
Advice to Ray: Buy a dog and take it with you on your door-to-door campaigning–at least in this neighborhood.
Full disclosure: Borderstan’s editors are supporting Ray in his Council bid. We knew him prior to beginning Borderstan.com.
Arrest made in Brian Betts murder case. Two men have been arrested and one more is in custody in the slaying of Shaw Middle School Principal Brian Betts. In addition, the mother of one of the suspects has been arrested for using Betts’ credit cards after his death. Betts was found murdered in his Silver Spring home on April 15. The Washington Post has details.
Colbert King column on Candidate Clark Ray. Washington Post columnist Colbert King has a column on DC Council candidate Clark Ray: “Ray’s an energetic action figure, not a ditherer; a welcome change. But on the issues? Face-to-face debates with the incumbent will tell.” Ray is running for an At-Large Council seat in the September 14 Democratic Primary against incumbent Phil Mendelson.
Clark Ray, candidate for an At-Large seat on the DC Council, held a meet and greet for area residents last evening at Policy on 14th Street NW. Ray is running in the Democratic Primary for the seat currently held by Phil Mendelson. The primary is September 14 and you must be a registered Democrat to vote in it. In DC, voter registration ends 30 days before an election.
If I could ask only one question of Councilmember Phil Mendelson at his community forum on crime in Shaw Monday night, it would be this: “Why is DC’s murder rate 4.56 times higher than that of New York City and what is your plan to keep fewer young people from being killed?” (More on homicide rates below).
No, the Shaw neighborhood is not in Borderstan. However, Council Member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) has influence over the entire District in his role as chair of the Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. So, it is noteworthy that he is holding a meeting tomorrow evening (December 14) to talk about public safety with Shaw and Mount Vernon Square residents. Time is 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the New Community Church, 614 S Street NW.
I suspect the meeting will be interesting and that Mendelson will get an earful from Shaw residents, particularly regarding past statements. Whatever issues we have in Dupont-Logan-U Street with crime, the folks in Shaw have more serious problems than we do here in the Borderstan area or in many other parts of the city.
“Not a Legislative Problem”
Mendelson has made some statements in the past that I (and others) find puzzling. For example, there is, “Crime in Shaw is not a legislative problem.” And you may like or dislike Harry Jaffe, but you should read this June 1, 2008, piece at Washingtonian.com, “Why DC’s Bad Guys Have So Many Guns.” (Coincidentally, Jaffe had a piece on violent crime in DC in today’s Examiner.)
In addition, Mendelson battled and defeated the mayor’s Omnibus Crime Bill earlier this year and has opposed efforts by Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) to enact some much tougher crime measures. Note: For background information and a history of the bills, read Cary Silverman’s posting at his blog, The Other 35 Percent.
I disagree with Mendelson. Crime in Shaw (and the District) is a legislative problem. At the very least, legislation is part of solving the problem, if not the entire answer.
The police and a number of members of the DC Council feel strongly that there are some tougher and more effective laws that could be enacted that would help law enforcement officers do their jobs more effectively. The reality is that DC still has a crime rate much higher than that of other major U.S. cities.
New York and Chicago, for example, have violent crime rates much lower than DC. This fact seems to get lost somewhere. Why don’t we as residents, demand to know why this is the case? What does New York do that we do not do? Why can’t we learn from other major U.S. cities?
DC’s Murder Rate 4.56 Times Higher Than New York City
Let’s take the murder rate. We hear a great deal about DC’s declining murder rate. It is, indeed, very good news. But here is the ugly reality. The murder rate in New York City is 4.99 homicides per 100,000 people (through Nov. 22 this year). In DC, the homicide rate is 22.77 per 100,000 people (through Dec. 10 this year).¹ So, what is the answer? I don’t know, but I do wish that we (residents and elected officials) would start to ask why and try to figure out what we can do to bring down the rate of violent crime in DC. At the very least, shouldn’t we be asking the question?
When we have a murder rate that is 4.56 times higher than New York City, I am not sure we should be bragging about our declining murder rate. (There have been 134 homicides in DC through Dec. 10 compared to 175 for the same period in 2008).
I am going to try to make it to the Monday meeting in Shaw to hear what residents ask and how Mendelson answers. I suggest that you go, too.
Full Disclosure: Cark Ray is running against Mendelson in the Democratic primary next September for the At-Large Council seat. I have known Clark for more than a decade and I am supporting him; yes, you will find my name (Matthew Rhoades) among Clark’s contributors. Those of you who have been reading this blog since we started it in August 2008 know that I have been writing about DC crime long before Clark began his campaign.
About Tonight’s Meeting
Luis and I headed over to Halo Lounge around 6:30 on Friday evening for Mayor Fenty’s “big announcement.” We got there a few minutes late, but Luis did get a photo of the mayor with wife, Michelle, as they left Halo. He was there to announce (not surprisingly) that he would sign the same-sex marriage bill that is expected to be passed by the DC Council later this fall.
There were many political poobahs (yes, it’s a word I love) on hand; I spotted Councilmembers Jim Graham (Ward 1), Mary Cheh (Ward 3) and [I think I saw] Phil Mendelson (At-Large). At-Large Council candidate Clark Ray was there as was DC’s delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton. (more…)
Just a reminder about a couple of things happening in Borderstan tomorrow.
Farmers’ Market, 14th & U NW. Remember that the 14th and U Farmers’ Market continues into October. You can get info about the market on Facebook and since they have a public page on Facebook, you don’t have to be a registered member of Facebook to go to it. (Got that?) On the northwest corner of 14th and U Streets NW.
Clark Ray for Council Kickoff, 17th & Q NW. At 10 a.m. Clark Ray will officially announce his candidacy for the DC City Council at the corner of 17th and Q Streets NW next to Java House. Ray is kicking off his candidacy in Ward 2 where served as neighborhood service coordinator for former Mayor Anthony Williams. Ray is running for the At-Large seat held by Phil Mendelson; they will be on the ballot in the Democratic Primary in September 2010. (Full disclosure: I know Ray and am supporting him.)
A couple of people told me that Clark Ray–candidate for DC Council and former head of DC Parks and Recreation until his dismissal by Mayor Adrian Fenty in April–was at the ribbon cutting for the park. Some of his supporters were on hand, too, wearing Ray stickers.
Nothing unusual there… but Fenty, Councilmember Jack Evans (Ward 2) and Ximena Hartsock (Ray’s replacement) all recognized Ray from the podium at the ribbon-cutting ceremonies today, giving him credit for his role in creation of both the Shaw Dog Park and the 17th Street park.
Ironic that Fenty fires Ray, but then gives Ray credit for his good work. I guess I do have to give Fenty credit for recognizing Ray, but some days it is tough to figure out our mayor.
(Full disclosure: I know Ray and am supporting him in his bid against incumbent Phil Mendelson in the 2010 Democratic Primary for an At-Large Council seat.)
Sunday Update: I’ve been told that work will begin this week on the dog park and will take six to seven weeks to complete–in time for a spring opening.
From Dupont Circle listserv on Yahoo! Groups: