D.C. Mayor Gray Hunkers Down for Stretch Run

Barrington M. Salmon | 2/26/2014, 3 p.m.
Perhaps it's a good thing that Mayor Vincent C. Gray operates effectively on a limited sleep schedule. These days, he ...
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray Photo by Shevry Lassiter

Perhaps it’s a good thing that Mayor Vincent C. Gray operates effectively on a limited sleep schedule. These days, he juggles his mayoral duties with the pressing demands of a re-election campaign.

An admitted workaholic, Gray is up in the wee hours, and more often than not, after grueling days of policy meetings, a busy public schedule and the unexpected, he can be found burning the midnight oil in the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest.

“I admit it. I’m a workaholic. I have an incredible amount of energy,” said Gray during an exclusive Informer interview. “My work ethic is carried from my parents. A lot of times, I don’t leave the office until 12, 1 a.m.”

A part of the reason Gray decided to run is rooted in a decision he made earlier in his life and informs almost all his choices now.

“I play baseball once a week – first base – been playing most of my life,” he said. “I got as close as two trials with a couple of Major League Baseball teams. I might have bounced around in the minor leagues though, and so I walked away because of the possibility of not making it. I always regret that.”

“It made me decide not to walk away from something I could do but which could be hugely challenging.”

Some believe that with eight candidates, including four members of the D.C. Council, vying for his job that’s challenge enough. His opponents contend that Gray hasn’t done enough to merit a second term and he has heard as much in different candidate forums.

Gray, 71, chides the others, saying they prefer chat over substance.

“The candidate forums are a joke,” he said. “I sit there and listen to the most ridiculous things. It’s all political points, slogans, cheap shots and catch-phrases like one candidate saying, ‘You have to learn to read to read to learn.’ I don’t need someone with catch-phrases. What are you going to do? Tell me what your plan is.”

Gray is unapologetic about waiting so long to jump into the race.

“I had to make a decision on whether I wanted to do this,” he said. “I felt we had a track record we could run on. I did the same thing I did the last time (in terms of the decision I made). Another term would put us where we need to be.”

“There’s no need to start over. I think the city deserves continuity, to continue moving in the direction in which we’re going.”

The mayor hasn’t been shy about touting the raft of changes in the city bearing his fingerprints. Explosive growth; 1,100 new residents trooping in each month; a skyline dotted with scores of cranes, transforming the District’s landscape at an unprecedented rate; and development of the city as one of the fastest-growing technology hubs in the country. There’s also $187 million his administration has allocated to develop and maintain affordable housing; reforming D.C. schools; the plan to house homeless men and women displaced from the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV); working with Microsoft and a consortium of companies and area universities to develop a medical campus, new business and incubators in Southeast; renovating Ballou Senior High School; creating jobs, particularly in the construction, information technology, culinary and hospitality industries; continuing to wean residents off Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and strengthening the University of the District of Columbia.