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D.C. Political Roundup: Todd is New Ward 4 Democrats Chair

James Wright | 7/17/2013, 3 p.m.
Brandon Todd is the new chair of the Ward 4 Democrats. (Courtesy photo)

Brandon Todd, a political activist and a protégé of D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), is the new chair of the Ward 4 Democrats of Washington, D.C.

Todd, 30, was elected to the chairmanship on June 5 and said that he’s looking forward to increasing the party numbers in the ward.

"I want to work to expand the focus of the Ward 4 Democrats," said Todd, who lives in Northwest. "I want to bring in younger people to the party. However, I will work closely with residents who have been with the party and club for decades because there are a lot of things I can learn from them."

Todd is a graduate of Eastern Senior High School in Northeast and holds a bachelor of communications degree from Bowie State University in Bowie, Md., and an MBA from Trinity University in Northwest. He served as a District of Columbia delegate for President Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. in 2012.

"I received the highest number of votes in the city to be an Obama delegate," Todd said. "I am happy about that."

Todd's fellow officers are Candace Nelson, first vice chair; Charon P.W. Hines, second vice chair; Peter Shapiro, treasurer; Teresa Cusick, secretary; Daniel Smith, financial secretary; and Kevin A. Jenkins, corresponding secretary. The officers will serve until July 1, 2015, Todd said.

Todd works as the director of community affairs for Bowser and served as her campaign manager for her successful re-election in 2012. When he is not working, he’s brainstorming with others regarding the Bowser for mayor campaign in 2014.

Todd's future political plans are up in the air. If Bowser is elected mayor in 2014, her council seat will be vacant in 2015.

Is Todd interested in running for the position?

"I am not going to talk about anything but 2014," he said with a smile.

Officers Elections Being Contested

Debbie Smith-Steiner, an advisory neighborhood commissioner for single-member district 5E01, is contesting the recent elections of the new officers of the Ward 5 Democratic Committee.

Smith-Steiner, who ran for third vice chair and lost in the June 24 Ward 5 Democratic Committee officer elections, filed a complaint with the D.C. Democratic State Committee (DCDSC) on June 27, alleging that violations of Democratic Party rules occurred. The complaint was sent to the attention of D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large), who is the chair of the DCDSC.

"One of the rules clearly stated that the DCDSC was to officially start the election process by 6:15 p.m.; in fact, the DCDSC did not start until 6:35 p.m.," Smith-Steiner stated in her complaint.

Smith-Steiner also raised questions about the presence of Silas Grant and Jon Mandel – who competed for the position of chairman which Grant eventually won – in the rear of the voting area. She said that when the candidates were asked to leave by DCDSC member Lenwood Johnson, he was ignored.

However, when the official presiding over the elections asked the candidates to leave the voting area, they complied, Smith-Steiner said.

She said, in addition, that Ward 5 Democrats should have presented either photo identification or a voter registration card to cast a ballot but no one did. That’s a violation of a rule that was voted on in May, Smith-Steiner said.

Plus, she alleged in a June 21 letter to Mark Jones, the co-chair of the nomination committee, that a candidate slate led by Grant used official Ward 5 letterhead to solicit voters.

Smith-Steiner served as an advisory neighborhood commissioner for the former single-member district 5C09 from 1997-2007 and was elected in 2012 to represent 5E01. She ran against Harry Thomas Jr. for the Ward 5 D.C. Council seat in 2006.

Smith-Steiner put Bonds, 68, on notice that she intends to take the matter to the next level.

"While the city is on high-alert demanding ethical leadership with integrity, I now call on you to heed the call," she said. "Please be mindful, that in addition to filing this challenge with the DCDSC regarding the recent episode ... I am also filing an official complaint with the D.C. Board of Elections and Government Accountability for an investigation."