Frank Wilds Running on Age, Experience

Barrington M. Salmon | 5/9/2012, 11:48 a.m.

Since the Ward 5 Council seat became vacant in January, a throng of challenges have jostled for ascendency to the coveted position.

At least two of the frontrunners and a number of others in the race fall solidly into the Gen X and Gen Y categories.

But supporters of local businessman Frank Wilds are adamant in their contention that Ward 5 needs someone with age and experience to move it forward. During a May 2 press conference in Brookland in Northeast, a coterie of supporters from the ward and elsewhere welcomed the presence of an adult into the race.

"Sometimes you need to send a man to do a man's job," said Frank Smith, a friend of Wilds and his wife Vivian for more than 40 years. "I think Ward 5 is in that position right now. We need someone with seasoning and who knows what's wanted and needed in the ward. I wanted to say this openly and publicly. He has passion and desire. He is working hard and he'll keep working hard."

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Grace Smith agreed.

"This is not the place for on-the-job training," she said. "Frank has the smarts, wisdom, business acumen and savvy. He is a fighter and a caring human being and embodies all the characteristics needed to be a councilmember. He will do without asking. He didn't just change to run for a ward council seat. He's been here and he's the person we need."

Wilds, 67, is among 11 candidates vying for the seat vacated by disgraced Councilmember Harry L. Thomas, Jr., who a federal judge sentenced to 38 months in jail on May 3. Thomas, 51, pled guilty to stealing at least $353,500 and filing a false tax return.

In the weeks leading up to the May 15 Ward 5 special election, Wilds ratcheted up his efforts to reach as many residents as he can before Election Day.

It's not that he has been frittering away the time. The businessman is on a mission and has already been out on the hustings. He spends three-to-four hours a day crisscrossing one or more of the ward's 18 precincts knocking on doors, meeting and chatting with residents, and explaining what he and his campaign stand for. Wilds said he's lost 20 pounds since January because of all the walking, but said he's an old-fashioned guy willing to do the legwork necessary to win the seat on the D.C. Council.

Smith, director of The African American Civil War Museum in Northwest and a former D.C. councilmember, represents the core of the city's old guard which one campaign staffer said epitomizes the "depth, breadth and scope" of Wilds' support.

In addition to Wilds supporters, others at the press conference included residents, Howard University students and campaign workers. Longtime friends such as Norm Neverson, former chairman of the D.C. Democratic Party; former Councilmember and lawyerJohn Ray; Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Shirley R. Smith; Timothy Thomas and Joseph Bowser, father of Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, attended the press conference.