Powell Elementary School looked a bit deserted by mid-Tuesday. Voting lines were nonexistent, supporters weren’t aggressively shouting out their favorite council candidates and few Ward 4 residents strolled quietly into the building.
Those who did stood out like cactuses in the desert, dressed in green to show their support of Ward 4 council member Muriel Bowser.
“Muriel Brown looks out for the low to no-income people of this ward,” said Franklin Brooks, president of the Tenants Association on Georgia Avenue. “Anytime I pick up the phone to call her or email her, I hear from her personally. And I used to live in Ward 2 and I still have yet to hear from my council in Ward 2.”
A four-year veteran on the city council, Bowser went head to head in Tuesday’s primary elections against Renee L. Bowser (no relation), Calvin Gurley, Baruti Jahi, Judi Jones and Max Skolnik. She came out victorious, winning roughly 65 percent of the vote.
Other incumbents winning in the primary were Jack Evans, unopposed in Ward 2; Yvette Alexander, Ward 7, and Marion Barry, Ward 8. Vincent Orange was in a dead heat with Sekou Biddle late Tuesday.
Primary winners also included President Barack Obama, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Washington’s delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton.
According to Bowser’s website, she has helped protect Ward 4 residents through her efforts with Pepco, health-care reform and new foreclosure laws.
Of the six supporters posted outside Powell Elementary on the 1300 block of Upshur Street NW, five were dressed in Bowser T-shirts.
Rudolph Harris, an adjunct professor at the University of the District of Columbia, said that he thought the election was “in the bag” for Bowser and Orange. Still, Harris was disappointed in the low turnout for the elections that he says are the “most important.”
“The primaries should be the biggest thing,” Harris said. “But people just aren’t too interested.”
By 3:15 p.m., roughly 275 voters had walked into Powell and voted, according to Amanda Leslie, a Max Skolnik supporter. The election precinct was expecting a turnout of 1,000 by the poll’s closing.
Leslie, once a Ward 4 resident who now lives in Mount Pleasant, candidly admitted to being Skolnik’s cousin. She said, however, aside from relation, his policies are what made her a supporter.
“I think the most important thing about his campaign is that he has real things outlined of how to change Ward 4 for the better,” Leslie said. “[Skolnik] has three things, specific tenets, that he’s going for: ethics, education and small business growth.”
“Many council members are under federal investigation right now,” she stressed. “People and council members shouldn’t just be winning because they’re not doing something wrong. They should be winning and getting re-elected, because they’re doing something right.”
One council member involved in the federal investigation scandal is Bowser.
Although she has refused to say whether her campaign has been issued a subpoena or not, public records show her campaign and those of several other council members received thousands of dollars from local wealthy businessman Jeffery Thomas, who sits at the center of the investigation. The other council members include Evans, Alexander, Chairman Kwame Brown and Phil Mendelson, D-At-Large.
Despite controversy, Bowser was able to win more than half of the ward’s votes. However, some residents were not looking forward to her re-election.
Although he said he could not remember which candidate he voted for, Ward 4 resident Aaron Brown made sure his vote was not cast for Bowser.
“I didn’t vote for her this time around,” Brown said. “I just figured we needed a change. She’s a little too close to Vincent Gray for me.”
Toward the end of voting time, Bowser made a visit to Powell Elementary, posing for pictures and shaking hands with supporters.
The precinct visits seemed to have paid off.