Mayoral challenger Vincent Gray picked up major campaign steam at a fundraiser hosted by CBO founder, former OMB Director and Federal Reserve Vice Chair Alice Rivlin at her Northwest home Sunday.
Emily Durso, President of the Hotel Association of Washington, offered strong support, joining Bob Malson, President of the D.C. Hospital Association, prominent filmmaker Aviva Kempner, and schools heavyweight Mary Filardo, one of the hosts of the event. Also now part of the Gray juggernaut: former Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development in the administration of Mayor Anthony Williams Doug Patton, and Georgetown lawyer Max Berry (another Williams alum).
"Education leadership in the District is very weak," Filardo, the respected education leader said. "We need a leader who thinks in terms of asset management, not just deficit management."
Filardo's support of Gray is a blow to current Mayor Adrian Fenty, who has staked his reputation on management of the school system.
Aviva Kempner said, "Fenty knows how to win, but I don't think he likes people." The acclaimed documentarian who produced the award-winning "Life and Times of Hank Greenberg," about the Detroit Tigers pitcher, said, "I think we're going to hit a home run with Vince Gray in September."
Former Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly (pictured below with Kempner) also offered her support, as she has done from the beginning stages.
Gray shook hands amiably, responding to a well-wisher's comments by offering a few words that revealed his governing philosophy. "Sometimes, you're in opposition. But if you don't make it personal, you often find you have a lot of common ground on other issues going forward."
Others spoke of a new, people-oriented leadership style that the District desperately needs. A fourth generation Washingtonian said, "I was watching Channnel 13. I watched how he was presiding over a hearing. There were five different panels, and his leadership was a wake-up call. There was actually 'meat' in there that I didn't even know had been missing."
Evelyn Brown (below) said, "He doesn't leave out a group of people, and Vince is not intimidated by the wisdom of others." She went on to say, "I think he can make the kind of difference we need ... in fiscal responsibility." Her face brightened as she added, " His chances of winning are increasing weekly. People are thinking twice ... I've alway been a great believer."
Former Mayor Sharon Pratt joins D.C. financial leader, former Federal Reserve Vice Chair and OMB Director Alice Rivlin, now at the Brookings Institution
Hotel Association of Washington President Emily Durso and Mayoral Candidate Vincent Gray
D.C. Hospital Association President Bob Malson with award-winning documentary filmmaker Aviva Kempner
Supporter Evelyn Brown
"He has a remarkable sense of character," Sam Brooks said. "Certainly a lot of people are disappointed in the mayor. Vince is one of the few people who could get me out."
Georgetown native Sam Brooks and Darcie Brooks
Introducing the candidate, Rivlin recalled, "I was delighted when he became Chairman. He cares about the city and can bring different parts of the city together." Vince Gray returned the compliment and thanked his host, "I can't tell you what it means," referring to the former control board chair, "to have someone like Alice to bring fiscal discipline to the city." To applause, Vince again thanked Alice for what she's done.
Vince went on to thank Josh Kern (shown above) for his vision. As Founding Director of Thurgood Marshall Charter School, Josh "has done more than just prepare people for legal careers, he's prepared them for life." And, Vince continued, " Josh made the decision to keep it east of the river." More applause.
"Education will be a top priority," Vince turned to Sharon Pratt Kelly in the crowd to thank her for a "chance to connect services, including at Covenant House." Then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly appointed Vince to the post of Director of the Department of Human Services. And in 1994 he was named the first Executive Director of Covenant House Washington, an international, faith-based organization dedicated to serving homeless and at-risk youth.
"Anything that sounds crazy is bold and courageous." Vince was talking about two years ago, when, as Chairman he spearheaded the Pre-K Expansion and Enhancement Act,which established a voluntary, high-quality pre-school program. "By this September," he told the guests, "every child will have a place. D.C. will be the first city with universal Pre-K." Not stopping there, Vince intends to expand the program to cover infants and toddlers.
From education reform, and the need to support both traditional public and charter schools, Vince went on to proudly anounce the location for the new campus of D.C.'s first community college (part of the University of D.C.) at 801 North Capitol Street in NE.
After education, citing "horrific unemployment", Vince compared the citywide rate of 11.6 with 19% in Ward 7, 30% in Ward 8 and in pockets of Ward 8, an unthinkable 75%.
Looking forward as mayor, he told the crowd, " I don't know anyone who's happy to be on the public dole." "We can do better than what we've done. I've put my seat at risk." He corrected himself. To laughter, "I've lost it."
"How can we help you?"asked a Vince supporter. "Yard signs." Vince smiled. "We've got 14,000 yard signs done the retail way." We've watched the emerging sea of blue. And those that don't have one are green with envy."
Ramona Edelin, Vince Gray and Shari Curtis
Alice Rivlin and Virginia Williams, mother of former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams
Sidney G. Winter, economist and Rivlin's husband
Laura, Avery and Bill Slover, Former D.C. Housing Authority Director
Josh Kern, Alice Rivlin and Adam Rubinson, Gray Campaign Manager
Gray supporters listen to the candidate