Primary Election Underway in D.C.

Volunteers for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and city Councilman Charles Allen wait to speak with voters outside King Greenleaf Recreation Center in Southwest during the city’s primary election on June 19. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Volunteers for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and city Councilman Charles Allen wait to speak with voters outside King Greenleaf Recreation Center in Southwest during the city’s primary election on June 19. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

District residents such as Karen Mason endured rain Tuesday to vote in the city’s Democratic primary election, which could result in a new mayor and five city council members, including the chair.

Mason, who moved to Southeast from Maryland six years ago, declined to say if she chose James Butler, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 5, or real estate consultant Ernest Johnson for mayor, but said her choice wasn’t incumbent Muriel Bowser.

“We just need somebody that is strong,” Mason said outside J.C. Nelle Elementary School in Southeast. “I chose someone different because … we need things to be a little bit better.”

Two voters cast ballots in the District's primary election at King Greenleaf Recreation Center in southwest D.C. on June 19. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Two voters cast ballots in the District’s primary election at King Greenleaf Recreation Center in southwest D.C. on June 19. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Lisa Jackson, a hospitality worker for PeopleReady staffing agency in Hyattsville, Maryland, said she voted for Bowser, partly because of her push to increase funding for Metro.

“She’s a good mayor,” said the Southeast resident, who made her way to the polls despite a severely swollen left leg. “Even in all this pain, I was going to vote for her and just vote, period.”

Mason and Jackson joined hundreds of voters across the city to cast their ballots, even amid intermittent heavy rain that likely affected voter turnout at several polling places.

Besides Bowser, who seeks to become the second mayor to win a second term since 2006, others seeking re-election in the Democratic primary include Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Charles Allen (Ward 6), Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5), Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) and Anita Bonds (At Large).

Councilwoman Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) has no challengers on the ballot.

A major question on the ballot is Initiative 77, which affect workers in the service industry who receive tips. A “yes” vote would require businesses to pay workers a $15 hourly minimum wage that would be phased in with tips included.

According to current law, the minimum wage for tipped employees currently stands at $3.33 and will increase to $5 by July 1, 2020.

Nearly 14,500 Washingtonians decided to cast their ballots during early voting.

Meanwhile, no rain fell from the sky Tuesday morning as voters and volunteers scattered across the sidewalks around Shepard Elementary School in Northwest, where Bowser cast her ballot.

If re-elected, Bowser said plans to focus on building programs that benefit the middle-class.

“The city is very successful but we want people working, earning higher wages and building more affordable housing,” she said.

Bowser even touched on the effects of motherhood with her daughter, Miranda, whom she adopted last month.

“I want to make sure we have a city she can grow up in and have all the opportunity in the world,” she said. “That will continue to be our focus.”

Moniqua and Maurice Sawyer also voted at Shepherd Elementary and cast their ballots for Bowser and Bonds.

Moniqua Sawyer, 52, a D.C. public schools teacher, wants the city to ensure “all students, special education students as well, receive the services that are optimum and not just bare minimum.”

Polls close at 8 p.m. For voters who are unsure of their polling location, go to https://dcboe.org.

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