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Barry Supports Gray for Re-Election

James Wright | 3/19/2014, 4:11 p.m.
D.C. Council member Marion Barry, who served four terms as mayor of the District, endorsed mayoral incumbent Vincent Gray for ...
Ward 8 Council member Marion Barry (Courtesy photo)

D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who served four terms as mayor of the District, endorsed mayoral incumbent Vincent Gray (D) for re-election Wednesday.

Barry made the announcement at the Matthews Memorial Baptist Church in Southeast with Gray, Barry's son Christopher and Bishop C. Matthew Hudson of Matthews Memorial in front of dozens of supporters.

Barry said that Gray is the one to lead the city during the next four years.

"There is too much at stake in this election, this is a critical election," Barry said. "On April 1, our city will be charged with choosing a leader. I know some people who want the office and they pretend to care about the people."

Barry supported Gray's election in 2010 and said that the next mayor will need to move fast to address the city's challenges.

"There is no textbook on how to be mayor," he said. "There is no time for on-the-job training."

Gray heartily accepted Barry's endorsement, which Barry said was sought by the seven other Democratic mayoral candidates in the April 1 primary.

"I initially did not aspire to this office," Gray said. "I was happy being the chairman of the D.C. Council but I talked to Marion Barry about running and he encouraged me. What I have done [since being mayor] is not for me, but for other people."

Gray realizes that Barry, whose strong support of black residents' aspirations in the city has caused unease among some whites, is controversial but pushed aside racial issues.

"I have sought to govern this entire city and I will seek the vote of everybody in D.C.," Gray said. "You can look at my cabinet and see that it reflects the population of the District."

Barry, who served as mayor of the District from 1979 to 1991 and again from 1995 to 1999, said that the District government is an approximately $11 billion entity and "we don't need an amateur trying to manage this money."

He credited Gray for attacking generational poverty and improving the city's education system and said that the mayor will work to keep black middle-class residents in the city, build more affordable housing, upgrade services to seniors and improve contracting opportunities for minority businesses.

"I don't want to single anybody out but I picked Gray because of his management experience," he said. "If you are sick, you call a surgeon not a plumber."

Barry defended the mayor regarding his legal troubles with the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and his alleged involvement in a 2010 shadow campaign, saying that Gray should have the same legal rights that every citizen expects.

"I know Vincent Gray for 30 years. He is a man of integrity. He is not about taking taxpayers' money," Barry said. "In America, you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. With the climate of this city, you are guilty until proven innocent."