By C.N. Staff Writer
Just weeks after winning the most votes in Ward 8, Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) swept up the most votes at the Ward 4 Democrats Endorsement Forum.
Although she did not reach the 60 percent threshold to win the official endorsement, Bowser came within a fraction of the majority in her home ward on the evening of Wednesday, February 6.
Mother and son Bowser supporters Dorothy and Ricky Goings were glad for the win. While waiting in line at Paul Public Charter, they explained why they believe Bowser is the best person to lead the city this time around. “I think she’s scandal-free,” Ricky said of Bowser as he stood in line to cast his vote for the straw poll. “She has a good vision for the city and I think she’s young and progressive,” he said.
“She’s helped us in the neighborhood,” said Dorothy who has lived in the District since 1959. “She’s worked with our rec center. Anytime you need anything, she’s always there. I think Muriel will put D.C. back on the map of how to work with the kids and work within the neighborhood.”
Of the 652 ballots eligible for tally, 322 (49 percent) went to Bowser. Incumbent Vincent Gray finished second with 223 votes (34 percent). Business owner Andy Shallal finished third with 33 votes (5 percent). Council member Vincent Orange (D-At Large) finished with 23 votes, while Council members Tommy Wells and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) finished with 21 and 13 votes, respectively. Former presidential assistant Reta Jo Lewis received 8 votes. Entrepreneur Carlos Allen did not receive any votes.
All top three candidates had agenda points that seemed popular when taking the mic to address attendees in the packed auditorium at Paul Public Charter School. Polls at the Northwest D.C. school were open for two hours as candidates debated one another on various topics and WUSA 9s Bruce Johnson moderated. Homelessness, education and the District’s $3.2 million surplus were themes that resonated with the audience.
On the question of education reform, Andy Shallal said his plans would lead to a halt in public school closings and less standardized testing. Both are contentious aspects of the District’s Public School system. Vince Gray was met with resounding applause when he advocated restoring vocational education so that students can walk out of schools prepared to take on jobs.
Gray touted the District’s surplus as a shining achievement, but Bowser struck a chord with the audience when she argued that the surplus is nothing to be proud of in light of rampant homelessness in D.C. According to the Washington Post, the number of homeless families in emergency shelters has more than doubled since October 1st 2013. No other major city is slated to see a 100 percent increase in the number of homeless families in emergency shelters. “Yes we have a surplus,” Bowser said at the forum “but we have children and families that are living in our recreation centers…Why do we have a surplus when we have so much need?” Other candidates quickly followed Bowser’s lead in confronting Gray’s on the perceived lack of help for homeless families.
After the candidate forum finished, counting started about 9 p.m.. Resident sign-in sheets were counted first to determine the maximum number of eligible ballots; the tallying of eligible ballots then began about 10 p.m. and took little over half an hour.
The next mayoral candidate’s forum will be held Tuesday February 11th in the Great Hall at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church 4201 Albemarle Street, NW.