Fenty, Gray Volunteers Push Their Man in Ward 5

Red, white, blue, yellow, green and orange colors stand out on campaign signs that outline the sidewalk in front of the Turkey Thicket Recreational Center in Ward 5. The center, located between 10th and 12th Streets at the point where Quincy Street meets Michigan Avenue Northeast, is a buzz of activity. It has become a campaign site for the District’s primary elections on Sept. 14.

Volunteers for Democratic mayoral candidates Adrian M. Fenty and Vincent C. Gray are enthusiastic in their support of their chosen candidates.

“We believe [Fenty] is the best candidate to put people back to work,” says Charly Carter, member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) local 656.

“We see a lot of new buildings, but the tags don’t say D.C.,” she continues, referring to her observation of several Maryland and Virginia license plates in the employee parking lots of businesses.

Another union volunteer, Alexander Freeman, says, “Fenty is a city builder.” Carter, a resident of D.C. since 1994, agrees that Fenty, as current mayor, has enhanced the city.

“The city looks better; feels better,” she says. “People are excited again to move east of the river.”

Fenty is seeking reelection, emphasizing job creation, public education reform and D.C. statehood, according to his campaign website.

Supporters of Gray, the D.C. Council chairman, view expanding the workforce as important as well.

“Jobs are critical,” says Bennie Lawson, a Ward 5 resident for 19 years. “The chairman emphasizes training. If we can get people working, we can begin to talk about other social issues.”

Lawson has known Gray for 30 years, admiring his compassion in working with disadvantaged people.

Gray’s platform focuses on job expansion, education reform, public safety and public trust, according to the campaign website.

“Gray will bring integrity and a transparent government,” says Ortiz Snowden, Ward 5 resident for more than 50 years.

Snowden voted for Fenty during the 2006 elections, but is not content with the outcome of his decision.

“I got bamboozled by Fenty,” Snowden says.

Lawson voted for Linda W. Cropp during the last election. Cropp, a former chairman of the D.C. Council, launched a campaign to “invest in the people” during the 2006 election season, according to her 2005 statement to run for mayor. Her goals included school restoration, affordable housing, and job training. 

Phil Potlock voted for Fenty during the last election, too.

Fenty is a man with energy who seemed to care about people,” Potlock says. “He lost me when he didn’t seem to understand the sharing policy between executive and legislative branches.”

Potlock says Gray is vigorous as well.

“[Gray] is energetic mentally and physically,” he says. “People shouldn’t judge energy by age.”   Gray is 67, and Fenty is 39.

Potlock, a Ward 5 resident for 15 years, and Gray have been friends since they were 8 years old. He says that he noticed Gray’s teamwork qualities when they played sports together while growing up.

“Vincent is the best person at this time in the city’s history, because he has a concept of teamwork,” he says.

Other mayoral candidates are Ernest Johnson (D), Leo Alexander (D) and Sulaimon Brown (D). Residents plan to cast their votes for the candidate that best represents what they want accomplished in the city.