The Democratic Primary battle for Ward 6 council member has come down to whether voters in the ward prefer a candidate whose experience in politics and government is largely local or national.
Charles Allen brings the local flavor to the race. He says he has worked more than a decade on D.C. issues. He was the policy director for the DC Primary Care Association and the chief of staff for Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells (D), who is leaving the council seat to run for mayor.
Darrel Thompson resume shows experience on the national level. His work includes jobs as a key player for the Barack Obama for U.S. Senate campaign in 2004 in Illinois and as chief of staff for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
The Democratic Primary is April 1. No Republicans and one Libertarian candidate filed for their parties’ primaries.
On the surface of it all, you have one candidate who has deeper ties with the Ward 6 community, while the other has been engaged on a broader level with federal politics to back him up,” says Jeffery Richardson, former liaison for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender issue for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and member of Ward 6 Democrats. “People might be reluctant to go for Thompson because his name is not as recognized as Mr. Allen, but then again, the ward and city is changing.”
Thompson argues that he is no foreigner to the District. He was born in the Shaw neighborhood in Northwest and has lived on Capitol Hill for over 20 years, two decades that he says he built close ties to the community and its residents.
With my prior positions I learned how to negotiate. Working in national government has provided a broader view on how a community can thrive. I know resources the ward needs is tied to the federal government. That’s where I come in to help,” said Thompson.
Change is the theme Thompson is using to promote his idea of “new leadership” for Ward 6. D.C. Democratic State Committee member Sheila White is adamant about the importance of starting anew for the prosperity of the community.
“Darrel is the new name and new face that the ward needs. He has national experience that will solidify his commitment and his initiatives. Under Tommy Wells, the ward was under represented. We need someone who will not just cover the hill, but all of Ward 6,” says White.
Both candidates share similar concerns for the ward.
Thompson has adopted a “Six Point Plan for Progress.” His top issues include:
· Affordable Housing
· Economic Growth
· Public Safety and Crime
· Fields, Parks and Recreation
· Seniors Services
Allen runs on the platform “A Neighborhood We Can Always Call Home.” His priority issues include:
· Quality Education
· Age-Friendly neighborhoods
· Growing small business and supporting entrepreneurs
· Ethics and Accountability in government
· Affordable Housing
· Prioritizing Parks and Public Space
· Public Safety
Endorsed by The Washington Post, Allen has many constituents who cannot overlook the persistence he has pertaining to the ward. The Post says “Mr. Allen has the keener knowledge of neighborhood issues, the complexities of D.C. government and how to bring about solutions to its problems.” Allen’s experience and affiliation with Wells also provides him with an incumbent advantage.
According to reports from both campaigns, Thompson has raised $196,000 for his campaign, besting Allen by close to $50,000. Allen explained that 85 percent of his donors live in Ward 6 and 97 percent from the District overall. Like his role model, Tommy Wells, he refuses to accept big corporation checks. Thompson is using his national political network to accumulate funds needed for the campaign. Allen argues that 40 percent of Thompson’s donors listed mailing addresses outside the District
President of D.C. Young Democrats Naomi Shelton says that both candidates have the means and will to lead Ward 6. “They both bring a lot to the table in terms of what they will offer the ward,” says Shelton. “It all comes down to game day decisions for people and who they know will serve them properly.”