Here's why I'm supporting Kenyan McDuffie, and why I think you should too. Kenyan McDuffie is the best choice to lead Ward 5 forward. He's a former prosecutor and civil rights attorney who has dedicated his life to public service. I respect him, and because I feel strongly about his candidacy, I have been volunteering with his campaign. That has been a great experience because I've been able to see the diversity of the people supporting him. Kenyan's supporters are diverse not just in age, and race, but also in class, candidates they have supported in other races, and life experience.
Kenyan McDuffie was born and raised in Ward 5's Stronghold neighborhood, but he is well versed in issues throughout Ward 5. I know this because I've had the opportunity to speak with him at length about some of those issues. Jobs and economic development are key issues in Ward 5 and Kenyan understands that streets like Bladensburg Road present opportunities, as will as challenges. One thing that always irked me about Harry Thomas was that he never seemed very focused on the opportunities present on Bladensburg Road. It's very close to the development on H Street, and we should attempt to capitalize on that...build on it. There's been talk of creating a mini-arts corridor on Bladensburg Road, and that is not an impossible goal. If you think it is, remember what H Street looked like ten years ago.
I'm not saying that this will happen on Bladensburg Road, I'm just using it as an example. I want a Councilmember who can look at the overall picture, and help to nourish opportunities like that when they present themselves. In our tiny section of Ward 5 we have Bladensburg Road, Benning Road, and the Florida Ave Market. Those are two commercial strips and one large area that will likely see tremendous changes over the next ten years (much sooner for the Florida Ave Market). The streetcar could help spur development along both strips. All of this means construction jobs for DC residents, small businesses that might need help getting off the ground, and a potential payoff in property taxes. We need a Councilmember who is engaged, and one who is knowledgeable about smart growth best practices. This is how we as a Ward can move forward with positive economic development.
To get there we are also going to need to improve the education available to our children. Kenyan is the father of two young girls, and acutely aware of the concerns parents face when choosing to the right school for their children. He has pledged to bring a middle school to Ward 5, and has ambitious plans for expanded specialized high school curricula, as well as expanded adult education programs.
Kenyan is strong on public safety issues as well. Before leaving his job to campaign full time, Kenyan was a policy and legislative advisor to the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice. He assisted in crafting and tailoring the policies and legislation to improve public safety in the District. As a former prosecutor, he has worked closely with law enforcement officers, and also understands the challenges and realities of our criminal justice system.
I believe that Kenyan is the clear choice for the next Ward 5 Councilmember. He's honest, hardworking, and ready to help Ward 5 heal and fulfill its potential.
This has been a tough campaign season. There are many candidates for this seat, and the danger of vote splitting is very real. That's why it's so vitally important that people make it to the polls, and cast educated votes. Early voting started today up at Turkey Thicket. If you know you can't make it May 15th, make a commitment to cast your ballot early.
I consider Kenyan McDuffie to be the front runner, but Delano Hunter is a very real threat (especially with vote splitting). I have written about Mr. Hunter before. Last time around he strongly supported putting marriage equality to a popular vote. He maintained this position even after a court ruled that allowing such a vote would violate the District of Columbia's Human Rights Act. He received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign assistance from the National Organization for Marriage (that group was formed entirely to opposed gay marriage). Kenyan, on the other hand, believes in civil rights for all people.
I also have serious concerns about Mr. Hunter's honesty/integrity, and his ability to manage his own finances. I'll try to put more info up here about that shortly, but I do not want to see someone like that in office. We need a strong and ethical leader to help us recover from the mess left behind by Harry Thomas Jr. We need someone with vision. That person is Kenyan McDuffie.
It is vitally important that everyone go vote. Vote early, or vote on May 15th. Remind your friends and neighbors about the election. Many people are undecided, and may not even vote without a little encouragement. Anyone who needs a free ride to the polls can get one by calling 202-595-7775. Ask your neighbors if they need a ride. Get your friends to go vote with you.