D.C. Political Round Up

James Wright | 1/19/2012, 12:34 p.m.

Race to April 3 Primary

D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At-Large) hosted a meeting of community leaders and residents on Monday, Jan. 9, at the Israel Baptist Church in Northeast to discuss the next steps forward for Ward 5 without former D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. Thomas publicly announced his resignation from the Ward 5 seat after pleading guilty to felony theft of public funds and failure to file federal taxes on income received.

Former D.C. Councilmembers William Spaulding, who once represented Ward 5 and John Ray, who served at-large, attended the meeting along with D.C. Council members Michael Brown (I-At-Large) and Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large).

Orange, who represented the ward from 1999-2007, made it clear he does not want to run for the now open Ward 5 seat and wanted to be seen as someone who can bring the community together.

"A lot of people feel we need to get back some unity to the Ward 5 community," he said. "I'm here to facilitate that conversation."

Residents voiced concerns to Orange about city services, schools, public safety and economic development issues they felt were neglected during the time Thomas was fighting his legal battles. D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D) held a meeting about constituent services for ward residents Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Community Academy Public Charter School in Northwest.

Names that are floating around for possible replacements for Thomas include D.C. Democratic party leader Anita Bonds; longtime activists Robert Brannum and Kathy Henderson; D.C. Council staffer Drew Hubbard; Ward 5 State Board of Education member Mark Jones; Republican leader Tim Day; former Gray administration staffer Kenyon McDuffie and social and political activist Delano Hunter.

It is believed\ the special election to replace Thomas will take place on May 15, according to published reports.

Recalls Underway

A District citizen is leading a movement to recall the mayor of the District of Columbia, the chairman of the D.C. Council and other council members. Frederick Butler, a supporter of former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and a confidant of Fenty confidant Sinclair Skinner, picked up petitions at the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on Wed., January 11, to launch the recall of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, D.C. Chairman Kwame Brown and D.C. Council members Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3).

"Local government has gotten out of hand," Butler said. "We need to hold our elected officials accountable."

Butler and his supporters must collect about 45,000 signatures of registered voters from all of the wards in order for the Board of Elections to set a date for the recall elections of Gray and Brown. In the case of Graham and Cheh, 10 percent of registered voters in their wards must sign the petition for a recall election.

If the Elections Board finds the signatures are legitimate for any of the selected public officials, it will set the recall election for the first Tuesday after 114 days. Gray, in a press conference on Jan. 11, said he would be happy to debate the merits of a recall. Brown said "I have spent no time thinking about recall."