Ward 8 Residents Split on Barry Re-election Bid

James Wright - WI Staff Writer | 8/31/2011, 1:49 p.m.
Marion Barry

Nevertheless, Barry, 75, has indicated that he will run for another term in 2012. "Yes, I will run but I have not announced that yet," he said to the Informer on Aug. 5.

Some critics of Barry in the ward cite his health and age as reasons for him to step down. Others say that he needs to groom a successor considering that he will close to 80 when his next term, should he be re-elected in 2012, ends in 2017. Barry said that he is doing fine.

"To me, age is just a number," he said. "My health is fine. My kidneys are operating well and my high blood pressure is under control." In response to grooming a successor, Barry said that he is "grooming about a dozen people to take his place."

Political activist Sandra Seegars said that she will challenge Barry in the Democratic primary and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Darrell Gaston has moved in the direction of getting in the race, also. Jacque Patterson, a well-known leader in the city's Democratic Party, has dropped hints to some that he might be interested in the race and ANC Commissioner Charles Wilson has reportedly told some ward insiders that he is looking at the race, also.

Published reports have also said that Peaceoholics Inc., co-founder Jauhar Abraham is planning to run against Barry.

Phinis Jones, a longtime, well-known entrepreneur in Ward 8, said that Barry has his support for many reasons, one being that the present list of challengers does not impress him.

"I will not support anyone who is unemployed and is looking for a job," Jones, 64, said. "Anyone who wants to take on Marion Barry needs to be up and running now because it is going to take $250,000 to mount a credible race. I know of several candidates that are interested and they have talked to me but none have the experience that Barry has.

"Markus Batchelor, of Congress Heights and a former youth mayor for the District of Columbia, said that new voices need to be heard in Ward 8. "I came into political consciousness when I was 10 and Barry was on the D.C. Council," Batchelor, 18, said. "As long as I can remember, he has been my council member. Barry is old to city politics although he is new to me."

Batchelor said that Barry has shown sensitivity to young people, "especially the summer youth jobs programs and other things." Still, he said that it is time for young people to step up and be a part of the ward's politics.

"The election of Trayon White to the D.C. State Board of Education for the ward was a great step forward," he said. "It is time that young people to be valued in this ward." White, who was elected earlier this year, said to the Informer that "I will not run for the D.C. Council in 2012" and stopped short of endorsing Barry. Barry and White have been seen together at events by ward observers. There are some who view Barry as a part of the "Old Ward 8" and says that there should be change.