Taking Georgetown's pulse in the mayoral election
The Dish has plenty of photographs that suggest that Georgetown is FentyTown. But is it?
Bloggers and reporters often peg Georgetown as solid Fenty territory, but after talking to community leaders about their views of mayoral candidates Vincent Gray, the City Council Chair, and Mayor Adrian Fenty, and what they sense among Georgetown voters, we're not so sure that's the case.
Take Rokas Beresniovas, a Georgetown-based Vice President with Wells Fargo who is active in the area's business community. Beresniovas has said he is not impressed with Fenty's campaign. An organization in which he is active, the Georgetown Business Association, recently released a statement warning that without the mayor's presence at a candidate forum, the GBA would have a hard time deciding who to endorse in the race. His read on Georgetown is that there are voters in both camps—and that voters who are ostensibly for Fenty may not be as staunch in their support as one might think.
"There are many in the Fenty camp who are truly supporters, but a greater majority simply seem to be comfortable with 'the devil they know' mentality," he wrote in an email, "even if [they] openly acknowledge that Fenty’s promises to serve in the best interests of the Georgetown community haven’t done anything substantial for them."
Others, meanwhile, are using the refrain that "it's Fenty's race to lose" in Georgetown. At a recent fund raising event for Gray, Davis Kennedy, publisher of the Current Newspapers said, "I imagine that a month ago [Georgetown] was overwhelmingly for Fenty, and it's coming down from that now," since Fenty has been absent from voters' view, particularly as he continues to shun candidate forums.
Still, Citizens Association of Georgetown Jennifer Altemus said she supports Fenty's reelection effort and that she and most of the Georgetown residents she's talked to about the race think "the city has come a long way under his leadership."
And many more are still undecided. The members of the GBA are not alone in saying that they need to hear what both Fenty and Gray have to say about issues important to locals before they make their decision. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Tom Birch said that he and most of those who he has spoken to are undecided. His colleague, ANC Commissioner Ed Solomon, said more residents favor Fenty in Ward 2 and this community, but he is interested to hear more specifics from Gray about his plans to pay for programs he's touting, where the City can make cuts, and taxes that "nickel and dime."
What are the issues that the undecided voters of Georgetown care about the most? According to Altemus, it's city services and the Georgetown University 2010 Campus Plan. Then there's historic preservation and zoning issues, "whether [residents] know it or not." Solomon said that residents care about the quality of schools in the area too. "Since Fenty has been making that one of his premier issues, I would think generally this community is supportive," he explained. Birch mentioned the Campus Plan, development, and transportation.