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D.C. Political Roundup: Wells Supporters Speak on His Behalf

James Wright | 5/22/2013, 8:16 p.m.
D.C. Council member Tommy Wells announced his 2014 candidacy for mayor on Saturday, May 18 at the Starburst Plaza in ...
Tommy Wells Courtesy Photo

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) is getting support among some rank-and-file African Americans in Washington who believe that he's the one who can best lead the city in the coming years. Wells announced his 2014 candidacy for District mayor on Saturday, May 18 at the Starburst Plaza in Northeast. For John "Peter Bug" Matthews, there's nobody better to serve as mayor.

"We need to elect somebody who will represent you," Matthews, a local personality in the Southeast portion of Ward 6, told the crowd of 60 who gathered in the park to rally around Wells. "You will always have the ear of this politician. He has always [supported] the children."

Political analysts say that in order for Wells, 56, to win the April 1, 2014 Democratic nomination for mayor, he needs to get a respectable, but not a majority, of the African-American vote. In his 15-minute speech, Wells talked about his plans to fight corruption "in the [John A.] Wilson Building"; to cut juvenile crime in half within 24 months of taking office; to ensure that there are good elementary schools within walking distance; and building a great public transit system that's bolstered by streetcars.

Steve DuBois, who lives in the ward's Northeast section, appreciated what Wells had to say.

"I like his position on living in a walkable city," said DuBois, 42. "I also know of his work on trying to rehabilitate the schools in Ward 6 and I was impressed by that."

Rickea Patterson has known Wells and his wife Barbara for two decades and said that they're "good people."

"Tommy is passionate about serving the D.C. community," said Patterson, 30. "He and Barbara have supported me even when I did not make the best decisions in my life. They see the best in me and they truly care."

If Wells is elected, he would be the first white to be mayor since the advent of Home Rule in 1973 and he would also be the first politician to have been elected to all levels of District government. Patterson, who lives in Southeast, said she's impressed that he's moved methodically through the ranks of government.

When it's mentioned that Wells would make history by becoming the first non-black mayor of the city, Matthews, 63, becomes animated and vehement in his response.

"People in Washington have had enough of this corruption and back-door dealing," he said. "I don't care if the next mayor is pink, if he gives everyone a fair shake, then I'll [support] him."

Norton to Fight Franks New Bill

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and her pro-choice allies scored a moral victory recently when U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) changed his D.C. anti-abortion bill.

Franks' original bill would have outlawed abortions in the District after 20 weeks but concerns raised by Norton, the pro-choice movement and anti-abortion activists, who think that the District should not be singled out, forced the congressman to re-think his strategy. His new bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks nationally.