Kenyan McDuffie, 36, is the newest Democratic member to join the District’s City Council, to represent Ward 5. Running in the wake of former Ward 5 Council Member Harry Thomas Jr.’s ethical scandal, McDuffie won in a landslide victory. McDuffie said, “I hope my win will bring the residents of Ward 5 back together.” His win will shine a new light on a ward that has been embroiled in misdirection since Thomas’ resignation in January.
McDuffie’s message of restoring the ward with ethical integrity and economic development resonated with voters. In unofficial numbers he garnered nearly 45% of the vote in a crowded field. Commenting after his victory, McDuffie said, “The model of my campaign was restoring the faith in leadership.” The majority of Ward 5 voters heard his message and took their votes to the polls.
McDuffie ran against 10 other candidates in the special election held Tuesday May 15th. He was considered a frontrunner in the race, but had two other candidates who posed a potential threat, Delano Hunter, a community organizer and Frank Wilds, a businessman, both Democratic candidates like McDuffie.
Rainy Tuesday weather early in the day threatened low voter turnout, but as the rain cleared voters went to the polls. McDuffie had lead early voting polls slightly and got the final push to victory on Election Day.
In a ward comprised of mostly middle-class neighborhoods like Brookland, Michigan Park, Lamond-Riggs and Brentwood, McDuffie still seeks to develop some of the older neighborhoods of the ward. “I want to bring a quality middle school back into the ward in addition to the other economic development projects I have proposed. Education is the key to the future.”
Soon after Thomas resigned from his post as Ward 5 Council Member, Kenyan McDuffie quit his job and began focusing his efforts on the special election. McDuffie ran against Harry Thomas Jr. in the 2010 race, but came up short in a crowded field of contenders.
He is a former Justice Department attorney and public safety official under the Gray administration. His short tenure under the Gray administration did not hurt his efforts, as he distanced himself and positioned himself as an outsider working to restore ethical reform.
This year he ran a clean campaign that garnered him several key endorsements, which lead great credibility to his campaign. His support included Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.), Greater Greater Washington, Gertruide Stein Club, Washington Teacher’s Union and the Firefighters union among others.
McDuffie replaces Harry Thomas Jr., who was sentenced to 38 months in prison for stealing more than $350,00 in city money. Thomas’ father, Harry Thomas, Sr. previously served the ward as the council member as well ascurrent At-Large Council Member Vincent Orange.