Ward 3 fêtes Mary Cheh at constituent services fundraiser

The guests at a Ward 3 constituent fund raising event on Wednesday night hailed from all over the ward, with one thing in common: their praise for Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh.

Of course, the event at the family-style Cactus Cantina being part fund raiser, part birthday celebration for Cheh, no one was going to say anything particularly critical of the woman of the hour. But the extent and diversity of accolades rained upon Cheh—from community leaders to colleagues to former opponents—hinted at the ease with which Cheh, who has so far been an impressive fund raiser, will likely claim victory in her run for reelection to the City Council, in which she will only face one general election opponent.

Sam Brooks says that his support is "exhibit A" of the strength of her reputation. Formerly her opponent in the acrimonious 2006 race for Ward 3 Councilmember, Brooks says he "couldn't think more highly of Mary" and "supports her in any way he can."

Boldface community personalities echoed his praise, too, and forecasted her strength in the general election. Calling Cheh "constituent conscientious," Forest Hills's David Donaldson said that Cheh has been on top of big-ticket local items for his community, like the encroachment of American University and the munitions buried under its campus. Claire Bloch, a developer and top aide from Cheh's 2006 election who heads The Strategy Group, said that Cheh has been strong on "smart development" of major transportation corridors, and noted that her efforts had drawn support from all over the City to Wednesday night's party.

Skip Coburn of the DC Nightlife Association and Councilmember David Catania

Cheh told the Dish that she was "delighted" by the turnout at this annual event. "I am continually surprised at how supportive people are from year to year," she said. Referencing her age, she said coyly, "Don't ask."

With a tense mayoral campaign going on, voters haven't focused on her campaign much. "I hear mostly about the mayor's race," she said, where her constituents are intersted in education reforms and job training and creation in the District. Ward 3, said Cheh, is on the right track, with a spike in auto break-ins being one of the few persisten troubles in a ward where "schools are modernizing."

"I don't want to portray it as contentment, but it's something like that," she said.

At-Large Councilmembers Michael Brown and David Catania appeared among the wellwishers, with the latter calling Cheh "an extraordinary public servant." Council Chairman and mayoral candidate Vincent Gray made a late appearance. He was greeted with a hearty embrace by former Councilmember and multi-time mayoral candidate John Ray.

"She's really in a league by herself," Catania said. "She's dedicated to sensible, honest solutions, she has a powerful intellect, a compelling sense of compassion. We're so lucky to have someone of Mary Cheh's calliber. She gets bigger every year, which really underscores the positive reaction the community gives her."

Catania was joined by a friend who quipped, "There's something about Mary."

"Yes, that'd be a great title," he laughs. "There's definitely something about Mary."

Gus and Tierney Viteri with Alexandra below and Mike Gallo holding Sienna and wife Shelley Cohen

Council Chairman Vince Gray and former Coucilmember John Ray

Attorney Natalie Ludaway, Councilmember Phil Mendelson and former People's Counsel Elizabeth Noel

Guests Richard and Lois England, Ward 3 residents

Attorney Lyle Blanchard, Christopher Fleming and Sam Brooks of Accessgreen