Ward 8 resident Richard Campbell will run against D.C. Councilman Trayon White in the 2020 Democratic primary, saying that he has a lot of personal respect for White but thinks he will be a better legislator for the ward.
“I think the ward needs a strong person to represent it,” Campbell, 60, said. “I would be the best person because I am a people person. I don’t want to speak negatively about anyone but I don’t see the council member we have in the community very much.
“I saw Trayon White once and that was late at night where there was a fire at an apartment building in Congress Heights,” he said. “I spoke to him and he spoke back but just kept walking with his head down.”
Campbell also talked about getting a robocall from White’s office about a meeting set to take place at the Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School on the latest developments regarding the Frederick Douglass Bridge. When he arrived at the meeting, he noticed White’s absence.
“He was the one who called the meeting and he didn’t even show up,” Campbell said. “He had one of his staff people there though.”
The Democratic Party primary will take place on June 2, 2020, with the general election on Nov. 3, 2020. Campbell is the only publicly declared challenger to White thus far.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Mike Austin, who represents single-member District 8C01 and chairs the 8C commission, has been rumored as a White challenger but has yet to reveal his intentions publicly.
Council candidacy petitions will be available on Jan. 10 and are due at the D.C. Board of Elections office on March 4 at 5 p.m. With the ward council race, only 250 signatures from eligible voters are needed to get on the primary ballot.
Campbell retired from the D.C. Department of Employment Services in 2013. During his tenure at the department, he served as a union shop steward and president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1000.
He attended Ward 8 schools and graduated from Ballou Senior High School in 1977.
Campbell said if elected to the council, he will work to bring back vocational education in the District’s school system. He wants to work on how the District’s road system can better accommodate the various modes of transportation such as scooters, bikes, mopeds and ATVs.
Campbell wants more money to go to the police department to fight crime and more officers on foot patrols.
There should be more recreation centers, Campbell said, because young people can stay out of trouble if they are in them instead of out in the streets.
To honor Barry, Campbell would rename Alabama Avenue SE for him instead of Good Hope Road SE, the choice for Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), White and Barry’s widow, Cora Masters Barry.
“Barry lived in Ward 7 and Ward 8 and Alabama Avenue is in both of those wards,” he said. “I will work with the council member from Ward 7 on this, if elected.”
Campbell said he thinks that the late Washington Informer Publisher Calvin Rolark and former Ward 8 D.C. Councilwoman Wilhelmina Rolark should be honored with a street or building in the ward.
D.C. Democratic State Committee Chairman Charles Wilson, who lives in Anacostia, said he knows the political players in Ward 8, but doesn’t know Campbell.
“I haven’t heard of him,” he said. “He will have a tough time beating Council member White because [White] has a lot of support in the ward.”