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D.C. Political Roundup: McDuffie Endorses White

James Wright | 7/30/2014, 3 p.m.
Robert White (Courtesy photo)

D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), one of the District's most popular politicians, hopes residents elect Robert White as the non-Democratic at-large council member in the upcoming Nov. 4 general election.

McDuffie, who faces minor opposition in his bid for re-election on Nov. 4, said that he sees White's potential as a legislator and admires his ability to overcome challenges.

"Like residents across the District of Columbia, Robert knows firsthand what it is like to battle adversity and defy the odds," said McDuffie, 38. "He overcame the personal tragedy of losing a parent as a child, became the first person in his family to graduate from college and developed into a first-rate attorney."

White opponents include former journalist and budget analyst Elissa Silverman, D.C. Statehood Senator Michael Brown and the Rev. Graylan Hagler of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Northeast. There are two at-large council seats up for grabs in the Nov. 4 general election and D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) will be a heavy favorite to win one because of the city's overwhelming Democratic base.

The District's Republican Party has selected Marc Morgan as their at-large candidate and the other parties have candidates, as well.

McDuffie, who serves as the chairman pro tem of the council, considered White’s candidacy carefully before making his decision to endorse him.

"It is critical that District residents elect the right person to serve on the council at this time in our city's history – a candidate that understands our city's unique issues and the promise of our future," he said. "Robert's commitment to his community and years of experience crafting legislation as a staffer to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton separate him from the pack of candidates seeking the at-large council seat reserved for a non-Democrat."

White, who graduated from St. Mary's College in St. Mary's City, Maryland with a bachelor's degree and a juris doctorate from the American University School of Law in Northwest, said he’s pleased to know that he has McDuffie’s support.

"He [McDuffie] is a distinguished member of the council with broad respect across the city," said White, 32.

Thomas Runs for Ward 3 Education Spot

W. Philip Thomas, the advisory neighborhood commissioner for single-member district 3D05 in Ward 3, wants to take his political activism to the next level and has filed papers with the D.C. Board of Elections to run for the ward's D.C. State Board of Education position. Incumbent Laura Stover has not filed for re-election.

"I am running because we need more educators on the board," said Thomas, 29. "In addition, the schools in Ward 3 are overcrowded and while that is positive because it shows that the quality of the ward's schools is high, it places a lot of stress on teachers and administrators to do their jobs effectively. I want to work to try to relieve the overcrowding."

Thomas, who works as a physical education teacher at the Community Public Charter School in Northwest, wants to strengthen the school system's course curriculum in the areas of physical education and the arts. He also favors the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which details what K-12 students should know in the areas of language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade.

While he teaches in a charter school, he makes it clear that the District's public school system has his full support.

"I have attended public schools all of my life," said Thomas, who has lived in both the District and Kentucky. "I think D.C. students should have a quality education whether they attend a public, charter or private school."

Thomas received his bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky in 2009. After graduating, he moved to the District and got involved in politics.

In 2010, he won the election to his first term representing 3D05 and has served as a coordinator of the Palisades Citizens Association Fourth of July Parade. Thomas volunteers with the Ward 3 Democrats and the D.C. Young Democrats.

Thomas expressed interest in becoming more politically astute, but he wants to work on education issues and isn’t looking for a seat on the D.C. Council.

"I am focusing on winning the election and serving on the board of education," he said. "I am not thinking of anything else."