Mayoral race hits home

Associate professor Dwight Cropp and his students have been a big resource for his wife, mayoral candidate and D.C. City Council Chairman Linda Cropp.

Having Dwight Cropp as a faculty member draws more college students to the campaign, said Linda Cropp’s campaign manager Ron Eckstein.

“We have lots of volunteers from D.C. colleges. We have folks who are fond of Dwight who have come in to help,” Eckstein said. “Every time we’re out campaigning we run into GW students. They always yell, ‘Hey, your husband’s my professor.'”

Dwight Cropp teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Public Policy and Public Administration. He came to GW as an administrator in 1990 and became a full-time professor in 1996.

“It is hectic and stressful having my wife running for mayor,” Dwight Cropp wrote in an e-mail. “I am not involved in the management of the campaign, but several of my students have volunteered at various times.”

The democratic primary is on Sept. 11, three days after a GW-sponsored mayoral debate at the Jack Morton Auditorium.

The Washington Post recently reported that Linda Cropp and D.C. Councilmember Adrian Fenty are the front-runners for the Democratic primary. Other major candidates include Councilmember Vincent Orange, lobbyist Michael Brown and former Verizon executive Marie Johns. The winner of the Democratic Primary has gone on to win the mayoral election for the last three decades.

Eckstein said Linda Cropp hopes to use GW and other D.C. universities as a “peace corps” for education, using college students as mentors for D.C. youth. He said Linda Cropp hopes to unite public school principals with businesses and universities around Washington.

“A public school is a multimillion dollar facility that needs a lot of management, expertise and training,” Eckstein said. “They could learn from large and successful institutions like GW and area businesses.”

D.C. native and junior Nai Kalema said she has volunteered at many of the 85 mayoral debates this year.

“I have not officially endorsed any candidate for mayor yet, and so my involvement has been mainly in the area of helping to facilitate debates. I know some other students around D.C. through my involvement with NAACP who are involved in the mayoral race,” wrote Kalema in an e-mail.

Kalema wrote that being a GW student has made her much more skeptical of city elections, noting that she is more perceptive to candidates’ agendas for both Foggy Bottom and GW.

“I am not so much torn between GWU and Foggy-Bottom as much as I am looking for the policies that can best negotiate the best interests of the entirety of D.C. residents,” she wrote.

Alec Evans, communications director for the Fenty campaign, said Fenty has “many Howard, Georgetown and American University volunteers, but no one from GW at this time.”

Evans said the mayoral candidate “will need an especially close partnership with the University if GW keeps developing.”

“For a GW student, Fenty offers a newer, more energetic approach to the way the city operates,” Evans said. “For a Foggy Bottom resident, he offers a responsiveness that people in Ward 2 can appreciate.”

With Foggy Bottom community members strongly opposed to GW’s planned commercial development of the old GW Hospital site called Square 54, Evans said it is important for Fenty to work with the University and Foggy Bottom residents to compromise on the debate.

“We are still hearing from both sides. Fenty did not represent GW’s ward while serving in City Council so he is looking into it at the moment,” Evans said.

Eckstein said that working with the Foggy Bottom community and GW to facilitate community meetings and discussion is a high priority for Linda Cropp’s campaign, but that GW should limit its growth.

“She feels that it is best for GW to build density within existing footprints,” Eckstein said. “Expansion should only be a last resort.”

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