Fenty Wins Ward 2 Straw Poll as Sparks Fly in Debate
Last night, sparks flew between campaigners for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and challenger Council Chair Vincent Gray at the Ward 2 straw poll in Thomas Circle near downtown. One supporter snapped, “hell no!” upon being approached by a Fenty volunteer. A young woman from the Fenty camp jumped in front of the camera, which was angled toward a Gray supporter, and demanded, “Am I ruining your shot?”
The story continues after this exclusive video report from Katie Manning:
The hostility subsided during the actual debate – except for a man running up to the podium, outraged that the candidates wouldn’t be taking questions. He was also irritated at having watched the clock for almost an hour past the scheduled start time of 7:30 p.m. Both candidates high-tailed it to Thomas Circle after finishing up an earlier debate in Ward 4. The candidates appeased the disgruntled voter by offering to take voter questions after the debate wrapped up.
The Logan Circle Citizens Association and the Ward 2 Dems hosted the straw poll at the Washington Plaza Hotel. The results:
Adrian Fenty 97
Vincent Gray 63
Leo Alexander 1
Michael Green 1
Mayor Fenty beat Gray for the first time in a Ward 2 straw poll leading up to the primary. The fact that Fenty was a no-show at previous public forums was a factor, some said. Ward 2, which also includes Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom and Downtown, has typically been a Fenty-friendly zone. Fenty swept Ward 2 in 2006, winning the vote in every precinct against then Council Chair Linda Cropp. Gray won 39% of the vote last night to Fenty's 59.5%.
Gray told The Georgetown Dish in an interview that citizens' concerns must be accommodated in Georgetown University's proposed Campus Plan. "The Mayor sent over three nominees to the Zoning Commission [which will vote on the Campus Plan] all of whom were from the developer community," Gray said. "We refused to move forward on one of them in order to preserve community participation -- just for situations like this."
Fenty said, "I believe Georgetown University is a fantastic asset, but just like anything else, there are good points to be made about how and when they grow their campus, and we'll make sure that those points get to them, and where appropriate they make whatever adjustments are necessary."
Voters applauded both Gray and Fenty with enthusiasm. The winner wasn’t obvious judging by cheers alone. As Gray, first at bat, kicked off his speech, a snag with the microphone made him inaudible to the back half of the audience. The candidates had been set up to speak from a podium, stationed front-and-center in the room. The crowd cheered as Gray stepped out into the crowd and raised his voice to turn the lecture into a town-hall-style discussion.
Fenty cited specific examples of achievement of his administration's effort to turn D.C. into a “world-class city” including bike lanes and his management of snow removal during last winter's extraordinary weather. Gray detailed his plans for improvements such as “focusing on early-childhood education” and creating a “birth through 24 continuum of education.” Alexander and Green both reminded voters that there were more than two candidates running.
Watch our video of last night’s straw poll to see more. Click here to share your thoughts.
By Katie Manning