Loose Lips

Ward 8 Democrats Feud Over Rude Emails, Future of Council Seat

Nate Bennett-Fleming

At least the Ward 8 Democrats aren't boring. A previous president of the group accused the D.C. Council of metaphorically cutting Vincent Orange's throat by not giving him a ceremonial position, and the organization's January mayoral straw poll turned so rowdy that police were called.

Now the Ward 8 Democrats are embroiled in a controversy that's caused a branch of the city-wide D.C. Democratic State Committee to rule against the group's president. And like so much else in Ward 8 these days, the feud is also shaping up as prelude to the upcoming fight for the ward Council seat currently held by Marion Barry.

The spat pits Ward 8 Democrats president Natalie Williams, Barry confidant Rev. Anthony Motley, and others against members of the group's executive committee. The controversy came to a head last month in the form of a letter to DCDSC chairwoman (and at-large Councilmember) Anita Bonds, in which nine members of the executive committee complained that Williams has tried to avoid the committee by prematurely ending its meetings.

"She talked about bringing integrity to the ward and to the organization, and it’s really been just the opposite," says Wanda Lockridge, one of the letter's signatories.

Williams won a contested election last September to take the Ward 8 Democrats' top position. To Williams, her opponents on the executive committee—including Shadow Rep. Nate Bennett-FlemingVince Gray deputy chief of staff Sheila Bunn, and ex-State Board of Education representative Trayon White—are either sore over her victory or attempting to weaken her ahead of a potential Council campaign.

"I have entered in it and kind of shook up the status quo, if you will, shook up the plans," Williams says.

The Ward 8 kerfuffle centers on multiple disputes, including a fight over committee assignments and a purported attempt by the Williams camp to strip ex-president Markus Batchelor of his position. Bennett-Fleming says he thought DCDSC had to get involved because the fights were distracting the organization, which will be expected to support mayoral hopeful Muriel Bowser in an unusually contested November general election. 

Perhaps the most interesting of the disputes involves Motley and White, who LL readers will remember from his recent lawsuit against the District over alleged police brutality at a turkey giveaway. In January, Motley and White engaged in a lengthy argument over email, most of which consisted of whether or not Motley should call White "Mr. White." When White said that Williams was Motley's puppet in a scheme somehow related to the 2016 Council election, though, an incensed Motley tried to convince the Ward 8 Democrats to discipline White.

“I think that it’s ridiculous," Motley tells LL of the accusation that he's the puppetmaster behind the group. "I don't run anything."

The fight over Williams' tenure in the top job could spill over into the race to succeed Barry. Williams, a former Barry staffer who unsuccessfully ran against him in 2012, says she intends to run again for the seat at some point.

"There are a number of people who are contemplating that the seat will become vacant at some point, and they would like to secure that," says Motley, who asked LL to make sure to write that he isn't considering a run himself.

Of course, if the seat were to open up before 2016, it'd be because something had befallen Barry. But don't tell that to Batchelor, who tells LL that people on both sides of the Ward 8 fight would like to replace Barry in the Wilson Building.

“I really am disgusted by a lot of people in our ward who have a death-watch on our councilmember,” Batchelor says.

On May 3, the DCDSC committee handling the fight gave a win to Williams' opponents, ruling in their favor on the committee, White, and Batchelor controversies. The whole DCDSC is expected to take up the issue next week.

Williams says she'll appeal the ruling. In the meantime, she has a message for her rivals inside the Ward 8 Democrats: "Get over it."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Ward 8

    This is such a shame. I have attended some of the Ward 8 Democrat meetings and I was mortified at how the committee members treated the current president (Ms. Williams). It was obvious that some of board members do not like Ms. Williams. I have witnessed them bully her, make demeaning comments, manipulate the others to vote against almost anything she puts forth, intentionally over talk her, place items on the agenda that were approve/disapproved because a person did not get their way.

    Wow, I could go on and on but it is too ridiculous. It is difficult to be proud of being a Ward 8 Democrat when I see (adults) Ward 8 residents behave in the manner in which I witnessed.

    I am sure this is all done to position someone for Barry's council seat (Nate Bennett-Fleming). Some people will go through any means necessary to get it. However, please note the demographics of Ward 8 are changing. A candidate will need to be competent, informed, composed, experienced, display signs of integrity, demonstrate a record for results (I don't mean criminal record), and a conscience.

    Again the demographics are changing...intelligent people who are emotionally mature should know how to behave themselves in a Democratic society. This is a form of intentional sabotage.

  • Gilland McGuire

    Hmm! iNTEGRITY, What about the sign off amendment of 1984 The Adult Protection Act.approved by Congress and never enforced over 28 years, but city councilmens, person signed off on it amendment for again approval. Tell the new meaning of INTEGRITY. A REGISTER VOTER. A SHAME OF SUCH NEGLECT BY OUR REPERSENTATION !!!

  • WARD4NDC

    Just ghetto!

  • Keep your head up Natalie

    Keep your head up Natalie! I echo the sentiments of Ward 8. The politcal jockeying and backstabbing is a damn shame. What we see here are what we have seen far too long in Ward 8 politics -- crabs in a bucket!

    Ward 8 can never except better when we have "leaders" acting like children and about as qualified.

    Natalie Williams is not only intelligent but organized, progressive, and professional.

    Good job Natalie! We see you!

  • Smh

    I guess it was okay for Trayon White to raise his hand at Natalie Williams at the February Executive Committee meeting. He's the cause of these shenanigans. Natalie won. Get over it.

  • Smh

    Correction: March executive committee meeting.

  • ward8cares

    I've been a some of the ward 8 democrats meeting as well and Ms. Williams is rude. Telling people to sit down and shut up. Who does she think she its. She is the bully thinking she can do whatever she wants to do without.

    This is not the Natalie Williams Democrats. She needs to get over it.

  • Luke

    How about Fleming get his damned signs down. He is in violation of the law AGAIN. Dude was late for every campaign finance filing, hasn't gotten his signs down and has a long history of indiscretions.

    NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME.

    I wish the City Paper would stop propping him up. There are plenty of other very well qualified potential candidates in Ward 8.

  • Marvin E. Adams

    O-N-E P-A-R-T-Y!!!

  • Chris hauser

    2016 seems so far far away.

    The meetings are open to the public.

  • Ward 8 Rise

    The Ward 8 Dems has been a worthless organization ever since Philip Pannel stepped down. He has been the only true leader for the organization.

  • Speaking

    All you want-ta-be councilmembers out there, barry is going to run again. LOL

  • Typical DC BS

    Barry would lose handily if the opposition would back ONE candidate to run against him in the primary. Every election season, multiple opponents run for Ward 8 councilmember and split the anti-Barry votes, and Barry once again skates in with 34% of the total vote.

  • It was all a dream

    This is a shame but it is the same old Ward Hate I mean Ward 8 Dems. Folks are mad at Williams because she doesn't kiss their ass and help them feel important. Let's go down the line.

    White - he is a wanna be leader who didn't represent well on the School Board and still doesn't do much to improve the ward.

    Nate - is just waiting education by running in every race that Vincent Orange doesn't. He needs to figure it out and stop hating.

    Rev. Motley - no need to comment, we know how much of a waste that is.

    SS - she is a joke as well.

    D. Simpson - I swear he is running because he wants to be relevant.

    As to Williams, she can be a little rough but you have to be tough in that group.

    As for Marcus B. He is nothing more than a younger version of Nate. A lot of book smarts and no common sense.

  • DCPeopleWhoThink

    Barry has been a major let down for Ward 8, but somehow he gets the most disenfranchised to follow him. Let's assess employment, mental health and housing -- and he agreed to support Vince Gray who also knew the major social fabric needs of our lowest economical status ward. Hear say, is that he's hoping for his son, Christopher to be his predecessor. However, Christopher needs the quality time w/ his father, as his heal from health and bereaving issues.

    Even when Phil Pannell goes off from not having his MEDs, no one can deny his INTELLECT that none discussed in the article can match. Trayon needs to worry about his high paying AT WILL job he took from supporting Gray, Motley likes young woman in their 20's he can manipulate and control (look at his wife compared to his age), Nate talks like an Educator but what has he done politically for Ward 8 -- please share, and Natalie has to learn from others outside of her friend Motley.

    Ward 8 needs to find ways to help their residents w/ the most rehab clinics in our city.

    Poor bus lines and nasty bus drivers, increase w/ heroine attacks residing, urban housing properties being abused, lack of healthy food stores, diverse restaurants, nice clubs and brick cooops/conds/town housing/single family homes.

  • But Why

    But why is Nate Bennett Fleming's pic up there?

  • Ward8Citizen

    The plain and simple of this is that Natalie Williams is one of the worst Presidents the Ward 8 Dems has had. She lets her friends run her and let's them convice her that their old school shady tactics will work now. They obviously don't and the State Committee stuck it to her.

    Williams doesn't represent the future, she's a talking head for all the people trying to get a piece of the political pie in Ward 8. It's outrageous.

    Even more, she can't brand herself as new leadership when she's doing all she can to tear down the young leaders in the Ward like Trayon and Markus. The Ward 8 Dems would be better without her and I can't wait to get her out of there. We need people who actually care about the Ward and the organization, and it's clear who does. The people who have given years to this organization without the shine. Not this self-promoting wannabe who will only do something for someone of she can put her name on it.

    Get her out!!!!

  • ward8cares

    Natalie Williams is not only intelligent but organized, progressive, and professional.

    WAIT, are we talking about the same Natalie Williams who cries like a 5 year old when she doesn't get her way.

  • Real Leadership

    Natalie Williams is a crook! She got lucky to get herself and half her slate across the finish line during the last election. Now, with split leadership on the executive committee, she doesn't know what to do!

    She hates anyone who opposes any ideas she has for the organization and tries to wage some amateur scorch-earth campaign to take them out. It obviously isn't working.

    You hear it from the horse's mouth - she wants to run for Council and this Ward 8 Dems seat is just a stepping stone for her! She can't lead the remnants of this organization! What makes us think she can work with the 70,000 residents of our ward to get community-oriented solutions put on the table.

    I'm not living in the Third Reich of Natalie Williams, and I wouldn't vote for here ever!

  • Tight Lips

    Ward 8 needs leadership that has no ties with the current political scene in that ward.

    It will be difficult to get Ward 8 in shape being as though there are members of the community who care more about their status in the community than to fix the issues that prevent them from moving forward.

  • God Is!

    God Is..in control; He knows when enough is enough. This process should have been/ remained an internal occurrence; however, God is working on each issue that the Ward 8 Dems are dealing with in this challenging season. In the meantime, it would be awesome to know that everyone is praying for all of our leaders and for unity in the Ward 8 community and in the entire City of Washington, DC! I am optimistic about the future endeavors of the Ward 8 and city leadership, to include my hope for a more unified, fair approach towards handling Ward 8 and city business. I believe that the citizens from Anacostia/ Garfield/Shipley Terrace/Ft. Stanton to Congress Heights /Bellevue, etc. will reap the benefits from the prayers of all interested in seeing a better Ward 8 and D.C. All of us need to come together in an effort to positively resolve many areas of concern particularly those involving the residents desire for creating jobs (Esp. Entry level ones that pay a living wage of $10 - $16 per hour); affordable housing for people earning less than $60K per year; improved and equitable schools east of the anacostia river as well as new literacy (Reading/STEM) and fully funded / expanded course offerings in DC workforce development training programs (esp. at UDC/CCDC). LET'S TRY WORKING ON AND SPEAKING THESE THINGS INTO EXISTENCE INSTEAD OF REMAINING FOCUSED ON THE NEGATIVE..We need to Get Moving Now..Pressing forward towards a higher calling..GOD IS!

  • Tight Lips

    lol, all that's fine and dandy until Catania gets a hold of Ward 8 lol.

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