Loose Lips

Running for Second in Ward 8

Marion Barry Will Probably Win in 2012. What About Next Time?

It ain’t easy running against incumbents in D.C. politics. It’s especially hard when the incumbent is Marion Barry.

Consider the plight of Barry’s former spokeswoman, Natalie Williams (pictured above, when she was working for Barry), and the lengths she had to go on Tuesday to get some attention for her bid to unseat her old boss.

Around 11 a.m., Williams and a small group of supporters arrived at the empty waiting room of Barry’s Wilson Building office, accompanied only by LL and a cameraman from WUSA9. The pretext was to protest a proposed group home in Ward 8. Williams and other critics have said the ward is oversaturated with social services organizations. But the real reason for the sit-in, of course, was to get noticed.

At first, Williams wasn’t going to be disruptive, so she sat silently on the floor at the foot of the desk of Barry’s absent receptionist. That plan lasted only a brief moment until Williams announced that she did, in fact, have a message to convey.

“Whose ward?” she yelled. “Our ward,” her supporters replied on cue.

At the cameraman’s request, the group bundled together for a more telegenic pose.

“Ward 8,” Williams continued. “Elevate,” the group yelled.

While the chanting went on, LL wandered towards the back of the office to see what Barry’s staffers thought. They barely seemed to notice. One aide indicated that Barry, who was at a news conference for new affordable housing in Ward 8, was on the phone and wanted to speak to LL.

Barry lashed out at Williams, calling her objections to the proposed shelter in Anacostia “callous” and “un-Christian.” He said Williams needed to be protesting the unnamed businesses who won’t hire homeless women.

“She’s sitting in the wrong place,” Barry said. “I’m about the renaissance of Ward 8.”

Williams then took her protest outside Barry’s office into the halls of the Wilson Building, where security asked her to leave. Once a few protesters from the Occupy D.C. rally at the adjacent Freedom Plaza were attracted by the chants and came over, unwittingly joining the protest against a group home. One guy named Kyle, who wore a Guy Fawkes mask inspired by the movie V is for Vendetta, was handed a sign saying “4 More? Hell No!” as he posed with the Williams group in front of the TV camera.

Later, he and Williams commiserated over the real problem in the world: that the majority of people just didn’t know what was really going on. “Sheep,” Kyle called them.

Beating Barry will take more than political rallies that depend on Occupy D.C.’s overflow, for Williams or any of the other three candidates running against him. (Another candidate will probably be dumped from the ballot for submitting qualifying petitions with bad signatures, and another just dropped out.) While Barry’s four terms as mayor proved plenty, his legacy as a civil rights leader and vocal defender of the city’s poor—even if he hasn’t been their best actual defender—has probably earned him the Ward 8 seat for as long as he wants it.

“If you get online and Google Marion, you get where you come from and where you’re going in the struggle,” R. Joyce Scott, the head of the Ward 8 Democrats, said at the group’s meeting last Saturday.

Which means the current election may really be a contest for who is best positioning themselves for the post-Barry years.

Barry, according to a report in the Washington Post, has told people he plans on serving only two years before setting his son Christopher Barry up as his replacement. Barry says he planted that rumor as “bait.” Last fall’s guilty plea to drug charges might also have complicated the younger Barry’s plans. But the fact that people are talking about it only underlines the fact that the former-mayor-for-life won’t always be the Ward 8 councilmember.

Still, he’ll almost certainly be sitting in the same seat at the D.C. Council dais come next January. There haven’t been any public polls of Ward 8, but Barry certainly doesn’t sound crazy when he predicts he’ll get about 70 to 75 percent of the vote. In fact, he’s so sure he’s going to win that he’s repeatedly beckoned challengers into the race.

At Saturday’s Ward 8 Democrats meeting, Barry praised the courage of those who “dare to step forward” and run against him.

“The more, the better,” Barry said.

For him, that is. Beating Barry one-on-one would be tough. Doing it while splitting the ward’s relatively small anti-Barry vote seems downright impossible.

But ask the group currently challenging Barry, and they’ll each tell you the same thing: They see how they’ll win, but none of the other candidates has either a clue or a chance.

Besides Williams, Barry’s challengers include: Jacque Patterson, the former president of the Ward 8 Democrats, who got 4 percent of the vote when he ran against Barry in 2004; Sandra Seegars, a community activist who lost to Barry both in 2004 and 2008, when she got 9 percent; and Darrell Gaston, an energetic 25-year-old ANC commissioner whose campaign strategy includes telling public housing residents that Barry supported ending the District’s open-ended welfare system: “We let them know, ‘Hey, Barry wants to cut your benefits.’”

Seegars says you can find proof of the rest of the pack’s fecklessness in their inability to challenge the signatures their rivals submitted to get on the ballot. She says the other candidates talked about challenging petitions, but only she actually did it.

“They sat back to wait for the woman to do the work, and I did. I get things done,” says Seegars. “I wish I could have knocked off all of them.”

Gaston says his record as an ANC commissioner is one of working in the “trenches” to help Ward 8 residents find jobs or avoid evictions. Meanwhile, he says his opponents have spent their time helping business groups gain power or “doing beauty pageants,” references to Patterson’s involvement with the pro-business Federal City Council and Williams’ spokeswoman work for the Miss Black USA organization.

And Patterson says flat out that he’s the only serious candidate of the whole bunch.

Posturing aside, a look at fundraising shows that none of the candidates have done well in the area any challenger would need to beat an entrenched incumbent like Barry: raising money. Financial reports released this week show that with two months left before the election, none of Barry’s challengers have much cash.

Patterson managed only to raise $4,353 despite telling LL that he’d been in talks with some of Barry’s long-time donors. Williams’ haul so far isn’t much better at $4,758. Seegars has raised only $1,340. Gaston raised a respectable $22,000 during the last reporting period but says his fundraising has slowed down during the last couple of months. (Neither Gaston or Barry had their most current reports available online by LL’s deadline.)

That kind of weak financing suggests that the race for second is still wide open. But for now, it looks like only Barry can decide when that Barry-free future for Ward 8 comes to pass.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Got a tip for LL? Send suggestions to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. Or call (202) 650-6951.

  • Ward-8

    Barry should have retired a long time ago, it is time for another person with new ideas and a vision for Ward - 8 , Barry has develop the persona of a husler. What ever good he did in the past have no baring on the current status of this ward, If the people of ward-8 put this Husler back in office, they are ignorant and or care less about our community.All one have to do is look around and see what is happening, people can sleep on this if they want ,they will be feeling like a lot of Republican voters who cut of their nose to spite their face and are know realizing and having buyers remorse realizing all the promises and talk they heard was all smoke and mirrors. We better wakeup people!!

  • REALLY?

    Natalie's sincerity is in question:
    1. Just recently moved to the ward to be able to run.
    2. Uplifting herself on the backs of the disenfranchised.
    3. Insincere
    4. She is a beauty queen consultant, how does that qualify one to run. In other words good at acting.
    5. Natalie, supported Barry at one point why is she backtracking? Either she was insincere now or insincere then. Either way, she is lying.
    6. Dear Natalie, Single mothers for Ward 8. Really? What about "jobs" for Ward 8?

    Her "single mother's" thing is an angle and a way to get votes. What exactly is her plan for single mothers, besides being able to identify?

    Patterson's character is a concern also:
    7. Jaque is shady, and has DC gov employees working for him, isn't that illegal?
    8. Jaque has been allegedly accused of being unethical. Do we really need another Barry?

    Do we really need a man who was kicked out of his own ANC position and Ward 8 Dems?

    or

    Better yet a new comer who is trying to make a name for herself? Then will surely move on. Insincere....

  • NE John

    Peanut?

    Butter!

    Ice?

    Cream!

    Whose Ward?

    Cream!

    Whoseyerdaddy!

  • http://www.pattersonforward8.com Jacque D. Patterson

    Reading LL's column, you get the impression that Councilmember Barry is unbeatable not because the imcumbent has lost support in the Ward from his base, or that the Ward's voting demographics have changed since I last ran against him in 2004 (8 years ago), but because he believes challengers can't raise money. In a Ward that has 35% unemployment, not many campaign donations are going to come from the residents of Ward 8. In a Ward that has only one grocery store and one sit down restaurant, there is not a base of businesses who involve themselves in politics.

    I made an ethical decision not to bundle contributions from LLCs when I appeared on the Discuss DC radio show with Chuck Thies and Eugene Kinlow. So fundraising for a Ward 8 race is a challenge. A review of my recent financial report will reveal a lot of $10, $20, and $25 contributions from residents. To me this is a signal loud and clear that resident are ready for change because they are giving all they have to a candidate who can affect change.

    As to the untrue statements by "Really?". Any person has the right to volunteer on a campaign as long as they don't do so during working hours and don't involve themselves in fundraising which would be a violation of the Hatch Act. Being a govt worker doesn't remove your right to vote or become involved in politics, it merely sets clear guidlines as to what type of involvement you may have and when. Secondly, I did 4 terms as an ANC, 8 years. Not once was I "kicked out" or even asked not to run again. I stayed until I found a more effective way of serving my community. In regards to my position as Chair of the Ward Eight Democrats, a position I won by beating former Councilwoman Sandy Allen, I served one full term. I was not kicked out of that position either, I chose not to run for re-election. It is noteworthy to include, that during that one term, I helped to increase voter turnout in Ward 8 by 27% during an election cycle Councilman Barry was not on the ballot!

    In closing, what is very interesting in the comment section of these columns is that it is done by individuals who do so under disguised "names" and don't have to substantiate their accusations. These are the same individuals who call for transparency and integrity in government. I welcome any challenge to my ethical behavior and integrity, but if people are going to question them, at least have the integrity to state what your challenge is and reveal who you are instead of asking empty questions to allude to something that is untrue.

    Jacque D. Patterson
    Candidate for City Council, Ward 8

  • SEis4ME

    Get it Jacque!

  • NE John

    Dude, I don't want my domestic and foreign clients seeing my full name attached to the shit I post here.

  • NE John

    And you did not clean up all the signs you left behind last time Jacque. Sacrebleu!

  • Ward8 SE

    As a Ward 8 resident for the past 12 years, Washington Highlands area, the Southern Avenue side, the only way Ward 8 will change is when as the last "frontier" the persons wanting to reside in the District butwant close access to MD and VA, decide that they will buy up the majority of the property in the area, place high end luxury homes that will still be cheaper than NW and Capitol Hill and, place tolls at major entrances into that part of the city, 210/South Capitol, Wheeler Rd/Southern, Naylor Road and Southern. Upscale supermarkets and mini strip malls will replace subsidized housing, schools such as Ballou will be closed and converted into a high tech office building, and vacant lands will be converted into parks and playgrounds that will be supervised. Only then will you see different residents in, undesirable residents out, the overflow from PG monitored and new legislative leadership in place. Until that happens there will a Barry or someone like him in office. The property value of the Ward has to be desirable to developers and persons of independent means if you intend to see any change.

  • SEis4ME

    @NEJohn, well stop posting shit then.

  • NE John

    I can't. It's therapeutic!

  • Brian Muller

    @Ward8 SE, I couldn't agree more! I bought a home here 3 years ago and am waiting on that "up and coming". Barry just seems to want to keep poor people poor so he can control them. I think I'm going with Natalie Williams with my vote though I'm not sure how good it will do with all the Sheep for Barry. Is it too much to ask to have a leader with a record? I want someone with a good record not a criminal record...

  • Larry Bryant

    With all due respect to Ms. Patterson and the others who have challenged Barry for the Ward 8 Council seat over the years, it seems the real key to beating Barry is not 'Beating Barry' but having an articulate and relevant platform for health and growth, fueled by strong grassroots partnerships that measurably closes the disparities gap from the rest of the 'One City'.

    It also helps to be insightful and knowledgeable about the Ward you are running for. I could be wrong but if you look at a map you would see that most social service agencies, soup kitchens, the remaining transitional/emergency housing, HIV & AIDS service organizations, women's and youth services, are West of the River. I am all for building communities from within however not at the expense of those most marginalized in that community. Ward 8 (7, 6, & 5 for that matter) will be as healthy and productive as its weakest resident.

    When I see Mr. Barry in public I am sometimes in awe of how even leaves his home every day much less how he remains relevant as decision maker in the Nation's Capitol City. However, winning the Ward 8 Council seat will require far more attention paid to establishing trust among its residents, developing a short/long term plan that supports a deteriorating education system, creates businesses (and supports home grown entrepreneurs) and jobs, which, in part, improves health outcomes and decreases economic, education, and health disparities.

  • truth hurts

    Don't know Jacque Patterson, but he sounds very much like the kind of person DC sorely needs on the council.

    Is there any other CM (or challenger) who has refused bundled business contributions? I'm not aware of any, but I could be wrong.

    Until DC pols legislate what Patterson did voluntarily, We'll have more of the same: pay to play crooked cronyism.

  • SEis4ME

    @Brian Muller, well you're gonna keep waiting until you decide to sell your house and move.

    It has yet to fail, every person who has tried to unseat Barry with an anti-Barry message, LOSES. Maybe if you gifted people took time to listen and take stock of our Ward, you would be able to mount a considerable challenge against Barry. But it never happens. People sit around and bytch about Barry in a Ward he continues to win by upwards of 70% and then wonder why he keeps doing it. You and others like W8 are part of the reason why.

    The only thing Barry has to do is "remind" his base of what he's done for them, make the case that his detractors just want to see him go down and BAM! He's elected once again. Then we're right back to square one.

    Natalie Williams worked for the same man she's running against. You might as well bring back Jesus because she stands no chance of winning AT ALL. And as a person whose recent move to w8 assures us that she has short legs w/in the community, she can kick rocks.

    I'm leaning towards Jacque Patterson and if you "so turned off by Barry" folks had any sense, you would coalesce around "A" candidate who stands a chance. Else, this cycle will repeat itself until Barry becomes incapicated while in office.

    You all like to talk about and question the intelligence of the "sheep" who keeps electing Barry but don't look in the mirror and see that you "intellects" are too dumb to understand politics. Natalie Williams obviously doesn't.

    You're the gifted guild whose "gifts" don't see to translate in how to mount a campaign. Yet, the Barry voters are dumb?

    Hmph!

  • http://n/a S.S.

    Loose Lips, I am not sure how you are reporting the money a candidate has. I have over $9,000.00 at the end of the reporting period. It seems you are supporting Barry. Why didn't you give the amount Barry has. Money in an election is a must; however, it is not everything. In the past, the candidates with the most money did not win - one such candidate for Mayor was John Ray. Barry beat Wilhelmina Rolark who had more money. The media needs to stop basing the ability of a candidate on money they raise.

  • REALLY?

    Natalie no one is trying to read all that mess. You should try and put that much effort into getting a clear message across about your plans for the ward instead of sitting in the lobby of Barry's office. What exactly did that accomplish, is the transitional home still coming, did you manage to effectively change anything. If this is what you plan on doing during your term, I will pass, and make sure others at least know about your failed attempts. Didn't you just hold a press conference about Calvary, AND NOTHING HAPPENED. FAIL #2. IF anything your focus should have been focusing on the zoning and planning instead of holding lack luster promotional self serving "press conferences"

    Natalie if you believe so much in Ward8 why is your store in PG county instead of Ward 8???? With your pictures plastered ALL over it? But you believe, but not enough to open a business. You believe enough to move here when there is something in it for you though. RIGHT. Again insincere.

    Patterson, as if Ron isn't making copies for you at work, like you aren't either, AS if. I actually like Patterson, as a person, but didn't he cheat on his ex wife and marry the mistress, the one he met last time he campaigned for city council I guess...(allegedly of course)

    SEis4ME: You clearly don't want people to know your name either. Unless your momma named you SEis4me. So stop jumping bad. I don't want to post my name, because I don't want to. I have a clearance and rather not deal with people in my business, but I do enjoy internet conversations with people. That's why, no one is hiding Patterson. Folks got business about themselves. Are we clear now?

  • REALLY?

    One more thing, Patterson, don't you and Ron sit next to each other in the office? You can honestly say you all don't talk ALL DAY about the campaign in the office during business hours?

    If I told you my name would you know me, Patterson, would it make the words any different...Cut the B.S....How do any of us know that is really you typing and not one of your workers?

    Vonnie isn't a good look for you either. He is a pot stirrer and turns people off from you. Just saying.

    The real questions are what are the candidates plan for zoning, encouraging new businesses, Trinity commons, zoning, improving facades of the business already operating, taxes, introducing measures to get away from all these social services on one block, blocking applications for new liquor stores, tolls on major thorough fares, the trolley, St. E....ect. Instead ya'll talk about endorsements and other BS...And some of you all don't even bother to show up, to talk (Natalie).

    I won't even bother to address this to Natalie, because I know there won't be a concrete answer. Just more self promoting at its finest (SPAIF).

  • SEis4ME

    Although I still look sideways at you working for a man who hasn't done enough to move w8 forward, this is a nice response that had little to do with being against Barry. I'm thankful for that.

    However, I do wish you had taken your skills and put them to use in support of a more well known candidate who I believe would stand a much better chance at winning.

    But oh well....

    BTW, you shouldn't kick rocks. That's the a**hole speaking.

    uhm..Really, even if Patterson isn't "really" posting here, at least he's faking it. OTOH, you don't want to attach your name but come forward with much inside information. It doesn't make you credible...even minimally.

  • NE John

    Natalie, that wasn't a moment; it was a month

  • SEis4Me

    Why does Really need to be minimally credible? I am not running, and what inside info does Really have? Stop checking for Really...Please and thanks...See what I did?

    Thanks,
    SEis4Me

  • Cliff

    Really if you have info. Please make it known before choose the devil dressed up like an angel!

  • seDCdude

    In order to beat Barry you simply need to be REAL!

    Say what you mean and mean what you say, NO agenda other than bringing quality of life, programs and INCLUSION to the ward.

    Too many continue to poverty pimp and side talk while being out of touch with reality, which has been the same in the ward for well over 20 years, as BLACK businesses went so did PRIDE!

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    To hell with how much money a candidate may spent to get elected, Good, intelligent people know how our politicians affect our lives. You can put all the expensive ads you want out there, I know who is doing what is best for me and my community.

    It appears that some Ward 8 residents wear their "I am going to vote for Barry, "the hasbeen" candidate, outdated candidate to annoy people "downtown.
    "
    As I have stated in previous postings, the demographics, including homeownership, cost of housing and other social factors have changed a lot in Ward 8. Hopefully, this will all reflect in our pattern of voting.

  • tony

    Marion Barry can't be beaten right now in ward 8. There is too much history between Barry and the ward 8 voters. And that history spans generations and is rooted in unbreakable loyalty. It’s true that a small black middle class is emerging in ward 8, but the truth is that a segment of that black middle roots are in a city that Barry politically dominated for more than 30 years. Many of those black middle class folks in ward 8 left the city years ago once they got their good government jobs from Barry. Now they are returning to less expensive areas of the city like ward 8. And while they may publicly give the impression that they will oppose Barry, the hard reality is that they will never turn on Marion Barry. Remember, Barry's support is this city is city-wide and his strongest support is amongst the black middle class who benefitted the most from his leadership.

  • REALLY?

    Cliff,

    To be honest, I encourage you to research every candidate. I would personally go for a candidate with experience rather than someone who "needs" employment.

    If I had to vote tomorrow it wouldn't be for a candidate that has qualities, such as....humble spirit (not looking for a come up), experience (has a reputable track record), and honesty...To be frank, some/1 or 2 of these candidates needs to back out....because they possess none of those qualities....I see why now Barry seems like a good choice....But, no thanks...

    AT THIS POINT, I would vote for Seegars or Patterson....The others seem to have ulterior motives....Maybe not Williams....but her store in PG CO rubs me the wrong way....If you want the down and dirty, email me at reallyward8@gmail....

    Some candidates are threatened by the truth....Ask me who and why, at the email provided....Immma leave that there.......

  • http://dcward8.org Gary R Feenster

    As a ward 8 resident and a life long Washingtonian, it brings smiles to my face to her SS (Sandra Seegars) brag about the fact that she chose to eliminate the competion by challenging ballots...Let alone her campaign of contemt against Barry says nothing about her ability to run represent Ward 8. Have you seen her on TV lately...I withdrew my petition and initiated a write-in campaign against Barry. The cost associated with fighting SS feable attempt to stifle democracy in the ward was not worth it..In addition to the cost to the district....I have not asked Ward 8 residents for one penny toward my campaign, for many residents theyre signature is all they can afford....There is an alternative to Mr Barry and this race is not contingent upon who raise the most money, who challenged the most signatures, nor who's talking the loudest....The race will be won by offering a REAL and HONEST alternative than folks who worked for Barry, been active in the community and allowed such a sorry state of affairs to exist, and merely looking for the best part-time job in america......

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com southeast lady

    I am disappointed in the outcome of the race. I was basing my hope on the fact that the demographics of Ward 8 has changed.

    However, as the demographics continue to change, I once again hope that Ward 8 will have a new, different and better prepared council person representative.

...