D.C. Council Chairman Will Not Endorse
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D) said he will not endorse a candidate in the Tue., May 15 Ward 5 D.C. Council member special election.
"There are a great number of candidates [who] are running," said Brown, 41, who added, "I wish everyone luck."
In the District, it's not unusual for the mayor, the D.C. Council Chairman and the members of the D.C. Council to back candidates for office. In 2011, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Brown supported Sekou Biddle in the special election to replace Brown on the D.C. Council permanently but Vincent Orange won the contest.
The winner of the special election will have to work with Brown on matters such as committee assignments, staffing and office space in the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest.
Economic Development Remains Key, Marshall Says
Ward 5 D.C. Council candidate Ruth Marshall said the next representative has to be an advocate for growing the ward's economy. Marshall is running for the D.C. Council seat in the special election that will be held on Tue., May 15.
"To me, the most important thing is economic development," said Marshall, 60. "Economic vibrancy will bring jobs to the community, improve the ward as a whole and make people want to live, work and shop here. That is why if I am elected to the D.C. Council, I will work to make sure that our residents understand the economic development taking place."
Marshall pointed out that Ward 5's corridors, such as Rhode Island Avenue and Route 50, have been targeted for increased commercial activity by city leaders but said that's not where the problem lies.
"When you get off of those corridors, by turning left or right, what do you have?" she asked.
Marshall, who lives in the Queens Chapel area of the ward, said that she will work to improve on-the-job training programs in the ward and in the city.
Marshall has served as both president of the Queens Chapel Civic Association and the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations. She's the director of administration for Premier Consultants International, Inc., a construction services firm in Northwest.
She said that it's "time for a change of leadership in our ward" and that the ward cannot be judged by the behavior of one person.
"We must utilize the power of our vote. Money and endorsements are not everything. We need to take a moment and do something different."
Cheeks Won't 'Go Along-to-Get-Along'
There's a perception that in order to be effective in the John A. Wilson Building, one must "go-along-to-get-along" to be a successful D.C. Council member. However, John Cheeks, an independent candidate in the Tue., May 15 special election for the Ward 5 seat on the D.C. Council, said that if elected, he will be his own man.
"I am the guy who they don't want in office," said Cheeks who lives in Brookland.
Cheeks said that he will fight corruption and will not support monopolies. He wants to clean up the District's procurement process and also repeal emergency legislation "so there can be public input on the laws of the District."
Cheeks, 49, said that he is against D.C. statehood and legislative autonomy, but supports a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and budget autonomy. He is against legislative autonomy because "the D.C. Council has a horrible track record on ethics."
Cheeks has a standing $400 million lawsuit against the D.C. government in federal court and said if he wins on May 15, he will drop the suit. He said if elected, he would require his colleagues and the mayor to take an annual drug test and the results would be released to the public.
Cheeks wants the voters of Ward 5 to give him a chance to serve.
"I am No. 1 on the ballot and I believe in the power of your votes," he said. "I'm running as a member of this community who wants to see real change and not just empty promises."
Henderson is True Activist
Kathy Henderson of the Trinidad-Carver Terrace section of Ward 5 believes that the next D.C. Council member should be one who has dedicated themselves in the streets and the suites for the improvement of the ward.
"I have an exemplary record of service in Ward 5," said Henderson, 50. "I want to change the paradigm in the community."
Henderson has served as an advisory neighborhood commissioner and on the D.C. Historic Preservation Board. She has been outspoken to District and federal authorities about the need to pay more attention and provide additional resources to the Carver Terrace area.
"I understand how government works," she said. "I will do an effective job to meet the challenges that Ward 5 faces."
Henderson's efforts have been recognized to have made Carver Terrace a safer place to live and she has been featured in Essence magazine and other media. She would like to use her skills and contacts to improve the ward overall, despite its challenges.
Those challenges include an unemployment rate of 13.5 percent and pockets where public safety is a concern. Henderson said that she will "roll up her sleeves and get things done."
"When I am elected, I will go through the ward and get the city to address infrastructure concerns," she said. "I will also try to go to the International Shopping Convention in Las Vegas so that I can promote the ward as the place to be in the city."