Democratic At-Large Council Candidates Squeeze Orange in Park View

The seven at-large candidates, including the four democratic candidates that will be on the April 3rd ballot

Last night, the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force hosted a forum for the seven at-large candidates that are running for the DC Council. While all candidates were asked a series of questions, the real focus — and tensions — were between the four Democratic candidates that will be on the April 3, 2012, primary ballot.

I expected pressure to be on Councilmember Vincent Orange, and it was. Peter Shapiro began aggressively by referring to Orange and questionable ethics and campaign financing while answering questions. Sekou Biddle and E. Gail Anderson Holness were not far behind and also got a few of their own shots in.

But it was not until the closing statements that Orange showed his mettle. Of the four Democratic contenders, Shapiro spoke first and again hammered away at the need for a fresh start on the DC Council. He spoke about his 6 years of experience on the Prince Georges County Council — two as chair — and the need for ethics at the Council level while indicating that Orange was part of the problem.

Orange spoke next, and immediately when on the attack. He quickly deviated from talking about his experience to labeling Shapiro a “quitter” who left the PG County Council high and dry to teach at the University of Maryland before moving back to the District. Orange furthermore called Shapiro a “carpetbagger” despite the many years he has lived in or near Washington (not to mention that Biddle is the only candidate running who was actually born and raised in the District).

Holness followed Orange and immediately stated that Shapiro was correct. The DC Council needed ethical behavior and a fresh start. In talking about the need to stop bullying in schools she segued into the bullying she feels that Orange has subjected her to, from challenging the signatures on her petition to run to removing her campaign signs. It was particularly interesting to see Orange’s photographer drop his head in thought as Holness stated she had photographic proof of Orange’s campaign workers removing her signs. At this point, and while Holness was still speaking, Orange along with his supporters rudely got up and left the auditorium with three other candidates yet to speak. Holness also left after she concluded her closing.

And then Biddle‘s turn came. After driving home why voters should elect him, he too when on the offensive. Referring to Orange’s reference and use of the Washington City Paper “endorsement” (shown below) that he was “… a champion of ethical government reforms.”

Newspaper quotes used in Orange's campaign literature and posted on his campaign Web site

Biddle said, ‘Mr. Orange likes to quote from the Washington City Paper. Let me tell you what the City paper really wrote.’ He then read the following from the paper:

Orange won a special election in April for an at-large council seat by capturing the support of the black voters who still decide elections; since then, he’s not only managed to stay free of any ethical taint (despite being the favorite politician of city contractors), but has somehow positioned himself as a champion of ethical government reforms. Only in the District, dear readers, would a former lobbyist for the hated local power company manage to win himself that reputation.

I came away from the event feeling very confident that three of the four Democratic candidates running for the DC Council are very capable, ethical, and a step in the right direction. Sadly, Orange, the candidate who currently holds the seat, was not among them.

His rude, disrespectful, and childish behavior at the end of the forum indicated to me that he is not the man to bring integrity to the DC Council. I also have memories of coming home during the 2010 campaign to find his campaign workers had posted Orange campaign signs on my property and that of my neighbors without permission. Given the field of candidates, we can definitely do better than Orange.


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One Comment on “Democratic At-Large Council Candidates Squeeze Orange in Park View”

  1. […] and will update if we hear back. (Full disclosure: We learned about the campaign's quote from this blog post on Park View D.C., which noted that challenger Sekou Biddle used the literature against Orange in a forum this week.) […]

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