Loose Lips

Ex-Norton Aide Switches Party Registration, Declares for At-Large Race

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The 2014 at-large D.C. Council race will get its first challenger Saturday when Robert White, a former aide to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, kicks off his campaign as an independent candidate.

White, a 31-year-old Brightwood Park resident, left his job as Norton's policy aide after five years to run for the seat. White tells LL he was inspired to run by what he sees as a lack of leadership in District politics, citing the Council's handling of the failed Large Retailer Accountability Act as an example (White wouldn't say how he would have voted on the bill, though).

Two at-large spots will be at stake in 2014: the open seat currently held by Democrat Anita Bonds and the seat open to anyone but Democrats, currently held by David Catania. Since whoever wins the Democratic primary will likely win the former position, that means White could be competing most directly with Catania, who hasn't announced yet whether he'll run for re-election. White declined to tell LL what he thought of Catania's tenure on the Council.

Of course, District Democrats rarely let party affiliation get in the way of running for the set aside, and White is no different. In the grand tradition of successful Independent-in-name-only candidate Michael A. Brown, White changed his party affiliation from Democrat to "no party affiliation" on Aug. 16, according to Board of Elections records. White also voted in the 2012 Democratic primary.

Despite the appearance of opportunism, though, White says that his switch is really a boon to voters. He tells LL that he ditched his Democratic registration so that he wouldn't be beholden to a party. "The local reality in D.C. right now is that I think voters need to feel that they have someone representing them whose only priority is them and not a party," he says.

White, with what's becoming a popular response with 2014 Council challengers, says he would focus on education, ethics, and economic development if elected. A native Washingtonian who's friends with many transplants to the District, White says he brings a perspective that covers multiple perspectives of the city to the Wilson Building. "I realize more and more I'm a gentrifier now," he says.

Since he's running as an Independent, White won't have to worry about the April Democratic primary and can focus instead on the November general election. "We will be really on the ground hard," he says. "I will be knocking on doors through the dead of winter."

White's kick-off is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday at 120 Kennedy St. NW, at the barber shop where, per White's press release, "Robert held his first job sweeping floors."

Photo courtesy Robert White

  • Sherman

    Why don't these candidates ever take policy positions other than vague statements of "we can do better" or "I want to focus on education" or other meaningless piffle?

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  • Next

    Worked for Holmes Norton on policy...that ranks right up there with working on DC for Obama on the meaningless activities list...next!

  • tony

    I have a hunch that this is just the beginning.

  • Bob

    I'd like to see someone (not necessarily this guy) take on Eleanor Holmes Norton. I have never been a fan, since some years back when she was "shocked!,shocked!" to discover that she and her husband had not been paying DC taxes for years. She's prickly, and barely gets along any better with her Democratic colleagues than with the GOP And whatever her accomplishments on the Hill (which have been few), she's stayed there too long. While Chief Lanier and Mayor Gray did a good job under tough circumstances in briefing the press and public during Monday's tragedy, Norton's showing up and then going on and on was just embarrassing. Let's wish Eleanor a dignified retirement, but it's past time for her to go.

  • lmao

    well Bonds needs to go!!

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  • Piece of Work

    It looks like he and Vincent Orange were separated at birth.

  • RealDC

    Uh, oh another guy with a color for a last name.....DC is full of them

    Good luck Mr. White. The council needs people.

    But why the switch on the party alliliation? Both Catania and Bonds are useless . Both need to go.

    Norton is embarrassing at this point. Her time on the Hill has been a waste. Her inaction really hurts the residents of DC. We need to move on from Norton.

  • Something New

    Focusing on education, ethics and the current economic climate in Washington, DC is extremely important but, detailing the how’s, why’s and the motives behind the man is imperative. I believe Mr. White has the gusto to make a difference in this election but, being transparent is key. We often desire something “new” and “different” well, let’s give this young man an opportunity to present, prove and posture himself accordingly and then let us make a conscious decision to judge the politics and the message.


    Watchful Onlooker

  • Murph

    Agree with Something New, it's important to hear specifics, but before a candidate announces, they rarely indicate specific positions. Otherwise they would get pigeonholed as 'that marijuana candidate' or 'the guy who only knows about education.'

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