In DC’s Ward 7, mostly east of the Anacostia River, former mayor Vince Gray is running to take back his old seat on the DC Council from Yvette Alexander. We hope voters will return him to the council.
While ethical issues from his campaign marred his mayoralty and serious questions still remain, on the policy issues, he was very strong. He was the champion of DC’s ambitious sustainability plan and the forward-thinking moveDC plan which called for bus lanes, protected bikeways, and much more. Under Gray, the DC government set ambitious goals for the future, ones we can only hope the District comes close to achieving.
Even before his term as mayor, he was an excellent councilmember and an excellent chairman. Having him back in the legislature will be a major win for DC. When he chaired the council, he charted a constructive course toward DC’s zoning update and other long-term planning processes.
Gray was never shy about saying, loudly and publicly, that DC should reduce its reliance on private cars. He’s also been adamant that DC needs more housing. In response to a question on the issue, he said,
The District’s zoning laws are arbitrary and impose a significant burden on further growth, especially for affordable housing. As mayor, I fought to change our height limitations in order to allow for the development of more high rise buildings to support more residents. As councilmember, I will support zoning changes to make building more affordable units easier and more straightforward.
Yvette Alexander, on the other hand, has been a poor councilmember. She has shown little to no leadership in her ward to improve bus service, despite the fact that large numbers of her constituents ride the bus and transit to many neighborhoods is not what it could be. (Compare that to Ward 5’s Kenyan McDuffie, who recently fought for and won funding for a new express bus line on Rhode Island Avenue.)
Alexander criticized bicycling at a rally about the bikeway on Pennsylvania Avenue and told Dave Salovesh that she wanted to keep being able to make U-turns across the lane (a very dangerous maneuver).
She responded angrily on Twitter when we reported her opposition, insisting she supported barriers on Pennsylvania Avenue, but refused to specifically state she supported them in front of the John A. Wilson Building, where the councilmembers park.
Having Gray back on the council would likely mean a big boost for good public policy. We hope Ward 7 voters will choose him in the Democratic primary. Early voting begins May 31, and election day is June 14. You can find out more about times and places to vote here.
This is the official endorsement of Greater Greater Washington. To determine endorsements, we invite regular contributors and editors to participate in a survey about their preferences and opinions about upcoming races. The editorial board then decides whether to make an endorsement.