Why I Am Voting Vincent C. Gray for Mayor
On April 1, 2014 I will cast my ballot for Vincent C. Gray for Mayor. It was an easy decision for me but may not be for many other voters. The open investigation surrounding his 2010 campaign is entering into many people’s decision. I am convinced that the majority will come to the same conclusion and believe the Mayor when he says he has done nothing illegal. I choose to accept his apology. One look at his life, not just the politician, you must conclude it is not in his DNA to lie or cheat. Gray’s life has been spent working for those who couldn’t fight for themselves and he dedicated himself to the non-profit field eschewing the money track. Many in government, including current councilmembers, have made millions being paid for their influence in office. Gray’s time in politics and government, only 13 years out of a long career, was fulltime and didn’t include looking for sources of outside income.
By every measurable indicator his administration has been successful. So for those who will consider voting against the Mayor based on supposition and innuendo, which is all there is regarding his personal role in his 2010 campaign, it would be my hope they take a second look before casting their ballot. They might just reconsider voting for him in the primary and ensuing election based on the health of the city. The District is moving in the right direction in every area including public safety; education reform; and fiscal stability. Moreover his administration is doing everything possible to improve the lives of the residents of every Ward.
The continued success of a city means giving credit to those who came before. Mayor Gray, along with starting new initiatives in the areas of employment and economic development; upping the level of service delivery; education reform and strengthening the safety net; has built on the positive initiatives begun under former Mayor Anthony Williams. That progress continued under former Mayor Adrian Fenty, elected overwhelmingly in 2006. He continued the reforms that Williams began and added his signature accomplishment, wresting control of the education system and placing it in the Mayor’s office. He did that with the help of then Council Chair Vincent Gray. His chosen Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, made great strides in reforming the system but after three years was under fire for how she worked, or didn’t work, with the community and her desire for personal publicity. While the Fenty administration made continued improvements in delivering city services it also spent down the city’s reserve fund by $600 million leaving the District at serious risk for lower bond ratings.
Vince Gray became Mayor at the time the nation was coming out of a recession and had the opportunity to make great strides in a fairly short time. He used all those opportunities. He continued education reform with Kaya Henderson as Chancellor and in 2013, based on national tests, the children of the District improved more than children in any other urban district. Vincent Gray authored and introduced the bill for universal pre-k education when he was Council Chair and that has resulted in some of the great strides our children are making.
Vincent Gray inherited an underfunded reserve and worked to rebuild the District’s fiscal solvency. He has been wildly successful while at the same time improving the delivery of city services. Because Gray rebuilt that reserve to $1.6 billion he was able to keep the D.C. government open during the federal shutdown. Then working with delegate Norton he ensured that the District is now exempt from federal shutdowns through 2015. Gray is the first Mayor to not only stand up to the federal government but along with some members of the Council and brave citizens sit down for their beliefs. His led that act of civil disobedience and again showed what he is made of as a person. Another indication of the man is that Vince Gray has been the most openly supportive elected official the LGBT community ever had. He has lost friends because of his principled stands but never hesitated to speak openly about his support for the community.
The Gray administration has been very successful in attracting new business to the District. During the first three years of the Gray administration the District has earned high marks from those who rate cities and their achievements. In 2013 Forbes Magazine rated the District the #1 New Tech Hot Spot; Politicom rated us the #1 strongest economy in the United States; and the American College of Sports Medicine rated us the #2 fittest city in the nation. The Mayor created the Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Nutrition and pushed fitness in the schools and continues to build new bike lanes. In 2012 we were rated #1 for LEED-certified Projects by the U.S. Green Building Council and the Mayor initiated the strongest plan for turning a city green in the nation. To continue reading this column please click on Washington Blade where it was first published.