Pag­ing Mayor Gray in search of a de­ci­sion

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - DEB­O­RAH SIM­MONS

Well, the Democrats are lin­ing up for the 2014 race for mayor of the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. Many of the 10 names are fairly well-known, and more than a few have chal­lenges to over­come.

Sev­eral of them are more wor­thy of vot­ers’ at­ten­tion than oth­ers.

First, though, I’d like to shout out to our cur­rent mayor, Vin­cent C. Gray, who is be­ing a bit coy about his de­ci­sion to run for a sec­ond term.

It’s a suit that doesn’t fit him well, even though I ap­pre­ci­ate that he, too, prob­a­bly ap­pre­ci­ates that the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal land­scape looks noth­ing like the one in 2010, when he whipped the socks off fel­low Demo­crat Adrian M. Fenty.

Back then, D.C. vot­ers were hud­dled in an any­one-but-Fenty pos­ture, which bol­stered the chances of a known politico like Mr. Gray, the then-D.C. Coun­cil chair­man who also had served as a Ward 7 law­maker and head of the Ward 7 Demo­cratic Party.

To­day, there also are thou­sands of new vot­ers and res­i­dents who sim­ply are un­fa­mil­iar with Mr. Gray and his pol­i­tics.

In fact, the in­flux of new hu­man cap­i­tal into the city is mov­ing at a fast and steady clip — an es­ti­mated 1,000 to 1,100 res­i­dents ev­ery month.

They move here not be­cause of Mr. Gray’s pol­i­tics but be­cause he in­her­ited a city that had been primed for con­sid­er­able change.

To wit: Even the vot­ing pub­lic changed dras­ti­cally.

In Au­gust 2010, just prior to the pri­maries, there were 73,178 reg­is­tered in­de­pen­dents. This Au­gust, that num­ber grew by 6,620.

Sim­i­larly, there was change among Demo­cratic vot­ers. While Democrats sus­tained their 75 per­cent ma­jor­ity from 2010 to 2013, Ward 4 was sur­passed by new strongholds in Wards 5 and 6, where eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, new multi- and sin­gle-fam­ily hous­ing, trans­porta­tion and ed­u­ca­tion are top con­cerns. Many of these vot­ers al­ready have jobs.

Also, there is no in­de­pen­dent dog of con­se­quence in the mayor’s race, and the D.C. Repub­li­can Party looks like it’s sit­ting this one out, too.

The Demo­cratic field looks like a drove of hun­gry jack­asses with four coun­cil mem­bers lead­ing the name-recog­ni­tion pack.

That’s why it’s more than re­fresh­ing to see non-D.C. na­tives Reta Jo Lewis, who worked in the Clin­ton and Obama administrations, and Andy Shal­lal, a restau­ra­teur and civic leader, in the run­ning.

Their vi­sions of Wash­ing­ton, like that of for­mer Mayor An­thony A. Wil­liams, rep­re­sent a change of out­look and a change of pace — changes that en­cour­age, per­haps even force, vot­ers and other stake­hold­ers to look and think out­side the box la­beled “sta­tus quo.”

For cer­tain, Mr. Gray is boxed in. He has no sig­na­ture pol­icy. Peo­ple he has known, trusted and been closely as­so­ci­ated with for years are ei­ther fac­ing le­gal trou­bles or are en­cased, as Mr. Gray him­self is, in the le­gal dust-ups that be­gan dur­ing the 2010 mayor’s race.

In­deed, like Pig-Pen, friend of woe-is-me Char­lie Brown, Mr. Gray’s cam­paign ma­chine is sur­rounded by grime and the mayor can’t seem to shake it loose.

Just this Wednes­day, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported on the on­go­ing fed­eral probe that stems from the 2010 may­oral cam­paign. At is­sue is scoff­ing from D.C. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Irvin B. Nathan who has been asked to turn over city emails and doc­u­ments — as if he’s the mayor’s pri­vate at­tor­ney.

U.S. At­tor­ney Ron­ald C. Machen Jr., who in the very be­gin­ning warned ev­ery­one within earshot and glance of an eye that he was go­ing to fol­low the money wher­ever it led, sent up another red flag in The Post.

D.C. res­i­dents “would be best served by a com­pre­hen­sive and un­fet­tered in­ves­ti­ga­tion that re­solves any doubts about crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing by elected of­fi­cials or oth­ers,” the Machen state­ment said.

Mr. Gray has lit­tle wig­gle room, as the pri­mary is set for April. Ei­ther he is run­ning or he’s not. He’s know what he’s up against: No sig­na­ture pol­icy to speak of, a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion tied to a “shadow cam­paign” in 2010 and Demo­cratic brethren who long have scav­enged along­side hiz­zoner.

If Mr. Gray won’t be hon­est with D.C. vot­ers and stake­hold­ers, then he should at least be hon­est with him­self.

There are no anti-Fenty in­sur­gents this time around.

Mr. Gray should find him­self and tend to it — quickly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.