Loose Lips

“We Cannot Be Mired in the Past”: Read Vince Gray’s Campaign Kickoff Speech


A month after announcing he would run for re-election, Mayor Vince Gray officially kicks off his campaign for a second term with an event today at Ward 8's THEARC arts center. Below is the prepared text of his speech.

* * *


Thank you. Good afternoon.

How about a big hand for Mike McCoy and Voices United. That’s homegrown talent.

Let’s hear it for the Indigo Project Trio from the Levine School of Music.

The Levine School does great work in this part of the city. I want to thank them for offering scholarships and helping students grow as artists.

We showcased some fantastic local talent here today. We’re also in the company of people with deep roots in our community.

I want to thank Rev. Dr. Ronald Braxton, Pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church for his moving invocation.

And how about a big hand for the students who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

My dear friend Carrie Thornhill reminded us of our shared responsibility to nourish, inspire and create opportunity for tomorrow’s generation. Carries’s dedication to children and building strong communities is inspirational and longstanding. Thank you, Carrie.

Leadership begins with commitment. And we lead by example, not through words. Jerry Moore is a remarkable and distinguished resident of our great city.

Any endeavor is stronger with his steady hand on the rudder. I want to thank Jerry for chairing our campaign. Thank you, Jerry.

Our campaign is led by co-chairs, too.

Judith Terra’s dedication to the arts and philanthropy spans the ideological spectrum. Her generosity is limitless. Thank you, Judith.

Sonia Gutierrez is also a co-chair. She has spent the past 40 years changing countless lives. Sonia’s leadership as the founding director of the Carlos

Rosario School has empowered immigrants and helps pave the way for their success. Thank you, Sonia

John Tinpe is co-chairing our campaign, too. John is a restaurateur and a hard-working civic leader. His “can do” approach to tackling challenges is something I admire. Thank you, John.

We’re building a strong campaign with supporters from every neighborhood and from every ward.

Each Democratic candidate needed 2,000 signatures to get on the ballot.

Please give a huge round of applause to our supporters who collected signatures in the cold, in the rain, in snow and sleet, and over the holidays. We needed 2,000. They collected more than 8,200.

Campaigns and elections are about the future.

A good candidate must answer two basic questions: what do you plan to do AND how do you plan to do it.

We have big plans and a record that proves we can accomplish them.

But, before we talk about the future, I want to say something about the past.

Everyone knows that our 2010 campaign had shortcomings.

I have spoken with people in living rooms, backyards, barber shops and on sidewalks. I have apologized to family, friends and colleagues.

I know that the 2010 campaign caused many people great pain. I know that our city suffered embarrassment.

Today, I apologize to you for the pain that my campaign caused. I ask for your forgiveness.

Although I cannot apologize for the misdeeds of others, the 2010 campaign was my campaign, and I am deeply sorry for the pain and embarrassment it has caused.

I have worked hard to earn your respect and honor you these past three years. I have put my shoulder to the stone and used the strength that you give me.

Every day I come to work committed to doing the job you elected me to do.

It is time to turn the page. I know that some journalists and our opponents want you to focus on the past. I know that some reporters prefer a circus to a thoughtful discussion of issues. I know that they care about ratings and selling newspapers.

I care about you.

I have dedicated my entire career to our community. From the day I graduated college to this morning when I greeted the new day, I have worked on behalf of you and the neediest among us.

We cannot be mired in the past.

We have a lot of work to do.

Our city is vibrant and growing, but too many residents are still living without jobs, the security of a stable home, or the certainty of a warm meal.

While the city experienced economic development throughout the past decade, too much of it was scattershot. Too little reached the people in greatest need.

Too many went without work.

My administration set out in a new direction. We brought every group to the table and have worked together to foster development that benefits every District resident.

And our efforts are bearing fruit. You can see it all across the city. Unemployment in our poorest neighborhoods has fallen significantly.

If we stay the course, if we double-down on our commitment, if we refuse to accept anything less than success, we will see everyone in our city thrive and prosper.

We can do this.

We will do this.

Just look what we have already accomplished.

In 2013, our students achieved the biggest gains of any state and any big city in America.

District students, led by District teachers, posted the single largest improvement in the United States.

We've rebuilt and renovated schools all across the city, including both Anacostia and Ballou High Schools right here in Ward 8. And we are building state-of-the art facilities all across our city where our children are learning the skills they'll need to compete and thrive in a 21st Century economy.

Every year, we are providing parents with more educational options for their children. New charter schools are opening and our traditional public schools are offering programs that are the envy of school districts across the country.

Our universal pre-K program is the most robust and well attended in the nation. It has been heralded by President Obama’s Secretary of Education as a national model.

70 percent of our three year-olds and 92 percent of our four year-olds are in school.

Our work is not done, but our schools are heading in the right direction.

And while we’re talking about work, how about this: in the past three years we have created more than 25,000 new private sector jobs in the District of Columbia. Many of those jobs went to District residents, and we will continue to insist that employers hire more and more of our residents.

We developed the One City One Hire Program, and it's put nearly 9,000 of our friends and neighbors back to work.

Unemployment in our hardest hit Wards continues to drop. Citywide, it has fallen from 11.2 percent to 8.6 percent today. And while still high here in Ward 8, unemployment has dropped from a staggering 25.4 percent to 18.2 percent.

We are teaming up with unions and the private sector on job training programs that are helping our young men and women enter the workforce.

The job market is very competitive and we are helping District residents to compete.

But even with all this success we still face challenges. Our city is getting more expensive. Everyone feels it. And for our residents with the fewest resources, sometimes what they feel is fear. Fear that they are not able to makes ends meet. Fear that they cannot afford to live here anymore. Fear that they will have no place in our great city.

Thousands of long-term residents, many of whom are senior citizens, held this city together during its toughest times. They stayed, they sacrificed and they forthrightly faced challenges when others fled.

Today, people move into the District of Columbia because it offers opportunity and a wonderfully diverse culture.

We must not forget the residents who held our city together. They should not be afraid that soon a home in our city will be entirely out of their reach.

That's why I committed the District to an unprecedented investment of $187 million in affordable housing. We are on track to create or preserve 10,000 units of affordable housing by 2020.

That’s 10,000 homes where people can raise a family and pursue their dreams more comfortable knowing that they have a place in the District’s future.

And we will honor our senior citizens, the backbone of this city, by guaranteeing that their golden years are not filled with worry, but instead filled with pride.

Our city is strong. The people who live here make it that way.

We’ve stood tall during tough times. We’ve faced great challenges, many of which are not of our own doing.

Did we yield to Congress when their dysfunctional shutdown threatened to choke our finances? No. We stayed open for business!

We let the nation know that every person in our great city is essential!

I stood up to Congress and was able to say “NO” to leaders on Capitol Hill because the 646,000 people who live here have my back.

And please know that I have your back, too!

We have a lot of work to do. But we are the people to do it.

I look around this room and I see folks from every part of our city. I see enormous talent and tireless dedication. I see white, I see black, I see brown, and every color in-between. I see straight, I see gay, and I see transgender. I see rich and I see poor. But above all, I see what makes us the greatest city in the greatest country on earth, I see a community.

The District of Columbia has always been my home. It is an honor to advocate for the people and communities of our great city. It is my life’s work.

I ask that you continue to stand with me. I will continue to work tirelessly for you, and together we will accomplish what we set out to achieve.

This is an election we must win.

We’ve come too far to turn back now.

We are bringing together young and old, black, brown and white, Latino, Asian, immigrants from throughout the world, gay, straight, able and disabled.

We are creating a city that every District resident is proud of. A city that embraces, nurtures and empowers every one of us.

ONE CITY, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you!

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • tony

    Now, take that!

    Victory is ours! Victory is ours!

    As brother Noodlez would say, the Gray's express train is going full steam ahead! BONK! BONK!

  • EColeman


    Do you really believe that this city will be better off if Mayor Gray is re-elected? I think not. In my earlier comment regarding the Tom Sherwood matter, I stated that the citizens of this city had grown weary of corruption
    and that Gray, and many other District officials, routinely violated contracting, personnel, human rights, etc. laws with impunity.

    Neo/Dino suggested that I was making unsubstantiated allegations. Nothing could be further from the truth. I offered to cite specific examples and to e-mail documentation to support each statement I made. He has not posted a response. The offer still stands!

    Send me you e-mail address Tony (and anyone else) and I'll forward you documentation that will demonstrate how little Mayor Gray cares about the citizens of this city and how little regard his has for his obligation to uphold District law.

    My e-mail address is epcoleman2730@yahoo.com.

  • drez

    Its time for him to move on, alright.

  • DCWeary

    Gray says we can't be mired in the past. It is called accountability. Wrong doers and criminals always want people to forget or forgive their actions after they are identified or caught. DC can't afford to forget. Move on and out of office, Mr. Mayor. You're forgiven. Save this city and the federal prosecutor time and waste of our resources. Just go away, so we all can move on. That's setting a good example for young people.

  • ecoleman


    You couldn't have put it better. Mayor Gray has presided in, or over, this culture of corruption for years and years. He is depending upon people that don't fully understand how he operates. He is banking on the ignorance of the uninformed population.

  • Grey Area

    Good speech, but no shadow money this time.

  • neo/dino

    EP Coleman: I did answer your mail on another post. This 'handle' I use is for a reason. My grandchildren have to do the work of setting up a private email account for me, but now that I have your email address, it will be easier to communicate.

    The fact that you, DC Weary and a few others believe the current administration is corrupt is your privilege. That being said, I will always take exception to supposedly intelligent sounding people ignoring due process. It makes no sense.

    Citizens who think in that manner are the reason grand juries 'can indict ham sandwiches.' Most grand jurors believe whatever the prosecutorial team puts before them. They are then led like sheep to slaughter. Only it is not just the accused who end up being slaughtered. In that instance it is also the very tenets of the US Constitution that are being massacred.

    EP, you seem to be a thinker. Mull over my statement and try to do so objectively. Quite a few of us were disappointed during and after the 2010 campaign. Me for my grandchildren, and who knows what for you. We can continue our session in private. I look forward to that.

  • tony


    Look man, it seems that you have some sort of personnel issue with the city and you should resolve that issue with the city somehow. But, bro you can't use that issue to smear the Mayor in a hotly contested campaign election and then say you are not being political.

    If your issue is legitimate then you have avenues to have those issues dealt with. But, you can't present those issues in a mayoral contest and then say you are being genuine and fair. Such personal issues become political attacks. And, those political attacks will not be tolerated.

    Best regards and I sincerely wish you peace and financial prosperity.

  • ecoleman


    You are right. I have taken this matter personally. I am a homeowner and long term resident of this city. I have a right to fully express my opinion regarding matters of interest to me. Mayor Gray has requested that citizens of this community re-elect him to lead this city. By doing so, he has welcomed scrutiny from the general public.

    "Those political attacks will not be tolerated?! You sound silly. This ain't 1862 and my name ain't Toby.

    I noticed that you didn't request proof of my claims regarding Gray's character. Examine my proof and then tell me that I am not being genuine and fair.

    This city is sick of corruption. Enough is enough! Speak to the large law firms, members of Congress, numerous high ranking District Officials quietly praying that basic law an order will soon be restored, etc. The District is synonymous with corruption.

    Send me an e-mail address. Look at my documentation - then tell me I am being unfair.

  • DCWeary

    Due process is afforded to everyone accused of a crime. Conversely, Mayor Gray cannot use the fact that the continuing criminal investigative process to claim innocence because the US prosecutor has not completed his work. Yes, we get that due process requires that a person is viewed as innocent until proven guilty. But when all of the evidence and our common sense clearly show that the elected official is guilty of poor judgment, if not corruption, i.e. accepting shadow campaign funds and paying Suilamon Brown, and hides behind silence or by bullying those who demand he be held accountable for these actions during the elections, the Mayor cannot assert his rights under the law. He is an elected official; if he wants to be a regular citizen, then resign and fight it as Joe Citizen. He is no role model. It seems to easy to get forgiveness. We should not forget.

  • ecoleman


    Thanks for your response. However, I have not received an e-mail from you as of 1/12/2014 @ 8:47 pm.


    You are so right. On a separate point, it appears that he does not fully understand what it means to be a public servant and the depth of the responsibilities associated with a public trust position.

  • neo/dino

    Weary,school man:

    I am not an attorney and certainly not qualified to espouse on due process. I do know however, that ALL citizens of the US are afforded same.

    You folks seem to think those $900+ p/h attorneys the Mayor and J.Thompson hired are as ignorant as some of the haters sound.

    Chill out (Ecoleman). My grandkids were busy elsewhere today and have no idea about your impatience regarding the 'hot potato' you say you're holding. Send it to Mike Madden and the new LL guy. I'm sure they will be glad to let you air your grievances. I'll let you know the new email address as soon as I get it.

    Some suggestion: Seek out the close friends you trust. If you don't want them to know about your current distress, call an anonymous hot line that is set up to deal with people under severe stress. You imply you have the intellect to find that type of service.

    Good Luck and I KNOW from experience how it feels to be terminated without cause. I also learned it was usually because of my persona which didn't fit the agenda on the job. Hopefully you'll get over the perceived transgression and land on your feet. If you have a family, I hope they can gather around you in your time of need. I mean this from the bottom of my heart.

  • ecoleman


    I was just letting you know that I had not received your e-mail address - you message was unclear. Don't worry about it. With all due respect, keep your e-m I have my hands full - I have received nearly 200 replies to my commentary.

  • ecoleman


    I was just letting you know that I had not received your e-mail address - you message was unclear. Don't worry about it. With all due respect, keep your e-mail address. I have my hands full - I have received nearly 200 replies to my commentary.


  • HUAlum71

    school man: Surely you jest. I'd be surprised if you received 20 emails, much less 200. If you've received that many emails, you wouldn't have time to spend so much time on this blog even if you do replicate your comments.

    A little white lie or a BIG FAT WHOPPER??
    It doesn't matter. Your character is already hanging out there in the wind begging for another whuppin'.

  • HUAlum71

    Dammmmnnnnn, school man.

    You's a email gettin' MoFo, ain't cha.
    At 12:48 or thereabouts, you say you received well over a hundred emails and by 3:10 you had received nearly two hundred.

    Sh*******t, dawg, you doin' better that LL with them kinda numbers. Why don't you share with them (LL & MM).
    Not the actual addresses, but a synopsis of the content.
    Make yourself a little more credible. Know what um sayin'?

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