Freshman Orientation Guide: Guide to D.C. politics

Adrian Fenty, Mayor

Democrat Adrian Fenty is the District’s fifth mayor. The D.C. native was elected in 2006 and is currently running for re-election. In the past few years he’s worked to reform D.C. public schools, but faces the challenge of 10.9 percent unemployment in the District. Among other things, he faced scrutiny last year over his use of police motorcades for bike rides. Though his approval rating reached an all-time low at the start of this year, in March he surpassed the record $3.8 million he raised for his 2006 campaign, according to the Washington Post.

Mayoral candidates

Vincent Gray, D.C. Council Chairman

Vincent Gray attended GW for his undergraduate and graduate years. He has served on the Council since 2005 and has been chairman since 2007. In March, Gray announced his run for mayor and many polls have shown him ahead of Fenty in the race. His campaign is not without controversy, however. He faced questions over his use of council stationery when requesting support from Comcast in 2008 for the D.C. Democratic Party, but in April the Office of Campaign Finance said he acted within his duties as chair and that the letter was acceptable since it was not campaign-related. Still up for debate are a fence and other work that contractors completed on Gray’s home before securing the permits to do so. For now, Gray is being allowed to keep the fence up.

Sulaimon Brown

Sulaimon Brown is a former Fenty supporter, and while he has not had as much media coverage as other candidates, he was one of the first to announce he would challenge Fenty last June. He was also the first to collect the needed signatures to officially have a spot on the ballot in September’s primary. Most recently he worked as an auditor and accountant in D.C. He told The Hatchet last fall that he wants to reduce crime and the high school dropout rate, as well as address HIV/AIDS and unemployment.

Leo Alexander

Known for his former career as a broadcast news reporter, Leo Alexander was the only other candidate besides Fenty or Gray to participate in a recent mayoral forum in Ward 3, raising the possibility that he could pull votes from the leading candidates. The New York native was a reporter for D.C.’s local NBC station in the mid-1990s. He then worked in public affairs for D.C. General Hospital and later for the D.C. Public Housing Authority before handling public relations for the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations. In 2005, he became an executive board member of the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights.

No Republicans have announced their candidacies for mayor. The Democrats will face off in a primary this September.

Councils and Associations

Each of the city’s eight wards has its own representative elected to a four-year term to serve on the council, the city’s legislative body. GW is located in Ward 2, and the area is represented by Councilmember Jack Evans. He has served on the council since 1991 when he was elected in a special election. Earlier this year there was speculation that Evans, the vice chair of the council, would run for chairman, but Evans told community members he decided now was not the time to do so.

The FBA is currently led by former GW student Asher Corson. He is also a member of ANC 2A. Another GW student, Lev Trubkovich, is vice president of the organization. The FBA was originally started in 1959 as the Foggy Bottom Restoration Association. The name changed to its current form in 1965. The FBA focuses on neighborhood issues that concern members.

Meets: usually last Tuesday of the month, except for July, August and December.

Congressional

Eleanor Holmes Norton,
D.C.’s Delegate in Congress

Eleanor Holmes Norton is the District’s sole representative in Congress. In her position, she can serve and vote on committees in Congress and speak on the House floor. Norton cannot vote on final passage of legislation, however, since she is not a full member of Congress. The D.C. native has been the city’s delegate in Congress since 1991.
Norton has advocated for years to get D.C. a vote in the House. In the spring it looked like a bill might make this possible, but a D.C. voting rights bill did not make it to the floor during the session. An amendment to the bill that would have eliminated most of D.C.’s gun-control laws caused controversy and held up the legislation.

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