The Ballad of Leroy Thorpe
ANC commissioner Lenwood Johnson might have stolen all the pre-election hyperlocal headlines, what with all the adult hotline calling and "bitchassness" and whatnot. But tonight's elections bring a once-notorious local name back to the forefront: Leroy Thorpe, who led the race for commissioner of ANC 6E02 for most of the evening.
That is, until he lost—by one vote. Update, 12:29 a.m. That is! Unless he pulls ahead again once special ballots come in.
Thorpe hadn't led a single member district since 2006, after a very contentious stint as the chair of ANC 2C. Tonight, he lost the closest of contests to Kevin Chapple, who has now won the seat four straight times. Of course, Thorpe's consecutive losses could well be chalked up to his reputation when it comes to dealing with residents and his colleagues:
1998: During a rally, Thorpe calls former Interim Police Chief Sonya Proctor "a house Negro from Maryland" and Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans "a pale-skinned, blond-haired cracker."
1999: During testimony at the D.C. Council, Thorpe calls openly gay Councilmember David Catania a "faggot."
2001: In an interview, Thorpe says of the Sept. 11 attacks: "“It’s a great day in America….the chickens are coming home to roost.”
2004: Former City Paper staffer Mike DeBonis called Thorpe regarding a community meeting. The exchange did not go well.
2006: Amanda S. Miller wrote a City Paper story on Thorpe and Shaw resident Kevin Chapple's electoral battle. Thorpe's responded to City Paper requests for comment thusly: "I’ve seen a lot of Uncle Toms and house niggers, so, no, I wouldn’t be interested in giving you an interview even after the election. You’re working for the enemy."
Has Thorpe changed his ways in the years since then? In a 2011 profile by DeBonis, Thorpe seemed to have realized that his mistakes may have rubbed more than a few residents of the District the wrong way.
“Your acts should speak for themselves,” he says. “Do I wish I can take things back? Yeah, I wish I could take it back, but I can’t take it back. Only thing I can do is wipe a bad thing out by a good deed.”
That "good deed" might have to wait until 2014.