While at least two incumbent Council members in the District of Columbia are running uncontested for this Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election, there are several ward races that are hotly contested. Beyond the At-Large race, here's a look at the other races and the candidates for the D.C. Council.
Ward 7 Race
Council member Yvette Alexander [D] versus Ron Moten [R]
The Ward 7 incumbent Democrat Council member Yvette Alexander is running against Republican candidate Ron Moten after she bested a crowded field in the Democratic primaries in April. In what should be an easy victory for Alexander, who has the backing of Mayor Vincent C. Gray, political watchers aren't sure, especially since Moten was recently endorsed by The Washington Post, which stated he "offers refreshing energy, community insights and an appealing independence."
Alexander was voted Ward 7 Council member for the east of the river neighborhoods in 2007 after then-Council member Gray left an opening to pursue the chairmanship after Chair Linda Cropp sought to become mayor. A native Washingtonian who grew up in Ward 7, Alexander has a bachelor's from Howard University and has done graduate work at Trinity College. Before becoming a council member, she was a District insurance regulator.
"My vision for Ward 7 is to make it a destination community, which comprises model communities to live, work, shop, eat and enjoy arts and entertainment," said Alexander, 51. "Progress has taken place from Northeast to Southeast and I'm ensuring that these projects are completed." Alexander said major revitalization plans started during her tenure include Skyland, Parkside, Penn Branch, East Capitol Gateway, and Reservation 13. "It takes continuity of leadership to complete these plans." Alexander said education, affordable housing, homeownership, declining crime, accessible health care options and a growing sector of business owners are among the areas she sees improvement in her ward.
At least two Ward 7 residents agree with the direction Alexander is taking the ward.
"I think she has done a pretty good job and I'm a strong supporter of hers and I wish her well," said Jerome Brocks, 63, a longtime Hillcrest resident and retired Anne Beers Elementary School teacher. "She hasn't done everything I'd like done, but she was a strong supporter for education and her leadership is strong."
Arrelle Anderson, a five-year resident who's also a small business owner, said she supported Alexander because she found her to be "accessible as she constantly stays in touch with me and encourages me."
Moten, who calls himself a "Civil Rights Republican," is a fifth generation Washingtonian. He attended Roosevelt Senior High School and majored in history at Park Community College in Allenwood, Pa. He's a co-founder of the nonprofit, Peaceoholics, which provides prevention and intervention for at-risk youth and their families.
"In a recent debate, Ms. Alexander was asked to identify or brag about one thing she has started in nearly six years as a council member representing Ward 7 and she could not," said Moten, 42. "I would talk about the more than 160 children I helped send to college, and supported while in college. Most of those students our community had given up hope [on] and were in gangs and crews. I could talk about ... the work of the Peaceoholics in the schools, and my work in Ward 7 communities like Benning Terrace." Moten said he'll tackle abusive taxes and fees, education, job creation, incorporating Ward 7 residents into positive economic development and lift the ban on vending licenses east of the river.
"He has passion and has shown he's willing to reinvent himself in order to work on behalf of the people's benefit," said Ward 7 activist Geraldine Washington, 50, adding there's a quiet majority of Ward 7 residents who're solidly in support of Moten.
"I've seen Ron's interaction, his care and his concern. I'll take a person with a sincere heart over someone who's highly educated but who doesn't care."
Ralph Chittams, another Ward 7 resident, agreed, saying he's supporting Moten because he's the better candidate.
"Ron is more knowledgeable about what's going on in the community," said Chittams, 52, "cares more about what's going on, and has a proven record of addressing what's going on in my community."
"I'll never support a Republican who's from Ward 8 who's here for a minute and now thinks he's the Ward 7 savior," said Brocks.
More on the candidates can be found at http://www.ronmoten.com/. There's a website, www.yvettealexander2012.com, that's not operational.
Ward 8 Race
Council member Marion Barry [D] versus Jauhar Abraham [I]
Council member and "Mayor for Life," Marion Barry Jr., a Democrat, is seeking a third term as the Ward 8 representative against the other co-founder of Peaceoholics, Jauhar Abraham, an independent. Neither candidate was endorsed by D.C.'s major newspapers because of the long-term social and economic problems in Ward 8 with little to no improvement. The same lack of confidence was reflected by resident, Christopher Jerry, from the Fairlawn neighborhood.
"I don't think either can serve Ward 8 to its fullest," said Jerry, 55. "Mr. Barry has too much negative baggage and going forward seemingly fewer allies on the council, including a weakened Mayor [Vincent] Gray. As for Mr. Abraham he would even have far less impact than Mr. Barry."
Barry, 76, who dedicated 40 years of his life to public service, lives by the motto, "always fighting for the people." He began his service to the District in 1971 when he was elected to the city's first school board. Then, he won a seat on the D.C. Council in 1974; and in 1978, became the District's second mayor, serving three terms until 1990. In 1992, Barry returned to politics by winning a seat on the council and made history in 1994 by winning a landslide victory that returned him to the city as mayor.
Under Barry's leadership, he said "there has been tremendous progress in providing job opportunities, affordable housing and homeownership opportunities for the residents of Ward 8.
However, Barry's opponent said his vision for Ward 8 is that it "deserves better."
"It's unacceptable for us to have the least of everything and it starts with the leadership of the ward, starting with the council member," said Jauhar Abraham, 44, a third generation Washingtonian, who served five years in the United States Army 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, N.C.
"We love Marion Barry but for the last eight years, we've seen an increase in school dropout rates, teen pregnancies, the increase of violent crimes and fewer jobs," Abraham explained. He said he served Ward 8 for more than 20 years by developing programs, mentoring and assisting with legislation that benefits the residents. "I have dedicated myself to improving the quality of life of the citizens of Ward 8. To date, I have [helped] 170 youth [attend] college from our community. I have an array of experience in managing people, growing businesses and my greatest asset is my ability to solve problems."
Peaceoholics founders Abraham and Ron Moten – both running against the incumbents in Wards 7 and 8 – gained favor with then-D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and received large grant funding from the city during the Fenty administration to fight gang activity and resolve youth conflicts. According to earlier reports by The Washington Informer, they were cleared by the D.C. Auditor last summer in a report requested by Ward 7 Council member Yvette Alexander who suggested criminal misuse of city funds.
"At the end of the day it seems to me as Ward 8 residents, we're getting what we deserve because we ... collectively as a political grouping ... can't let go of the past," Jerry said, "but the Barry legacy of the summer jobs program probably ensures he will win re-election no matter what he does until the day he decides to not run or can't run."
"As for Mr. Abraham I'd need to hear and see more than just an affiliation with the Peaceoholics. I appreciate that people in the community reach out to help brothers in the streets but just being a community activist or organizer is not enough in my view."
Abraham's website, www.abraham2012.com, is still not operational. The only re-election website for Barry is from the primary race, http://marionbarryjr.com/.