Franklin Garcia (Courtesy photo)
Franklin Garcia (Courtesy photo)

D.C. Shadow Rep. Franklin Garcia (D) will leave his party to run for the non-Democratic at-large position on the D.C. Council, which would make him the first Latino to serve on the District’s legislative body.

“This is an opportunity for me to be the much-needed voice on the D.C. Council,” Garcia said. “I will not run as a Democrat because the current occupant, Robert White, is doing a good job. I think the city council needs to reflect the population of the city and I think I will be a good council member for all District residents but especially the migrant and Latino communities.”

Garcia wants to be on the Nov. 3, 2020, general election ballot.

Nine percent of the District’s population consists of Latinos. While Latinos live throughout the District, large blocs are located in Wards 4 and 5. Since the first D.C. Council convened in 1975, no Latino has been elected to it.

Prior to his election as the District’s shadow representative in the U.S. House in 2015, Garcia served as the founder and president of the D.C. Latino Caucus and president of the D.C. Latino Leadership Caucus.

Garcia said he became interested in the non-Democratic council at-large position upon learning that Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) said he would not run for reelection in 2020.

“After Grosso made his announcement, a number of people called me, Latino and non-Latino, to urge me to run for the position,” Garcia said. “I was told that this would be a good opportunity for a Latino to be on the council.”

Garcia said he would be an independent voice on the council, despite his strong ties to the Democratic Party.

“I have always had an independent way of thinking and when I consider issues on the council, I will do my own thinking and make up my own mind on what is in the best interests of all District residents,” he said.

‘True Independent’ Jayaraman Running for Council Seat

Chander Jayaraman (Courtesy photo)
Chander Jayaraman (Courtesy photo)

Chander Jayaraman scoffs when he hears that former Democrats are running for the independent at-large council seat that is up for grabs in 2020.

“I am the only true independent in the race,” Jayaraman said. “I didn’t switch parties so that I can get an opportunity to get on the city council.”

Jayaraman points to a Home Rule Charter requirement that two of the at-large positions on the D.C. Council go to non-Democrats.

Jayaraman plans to run in the Nov. 3, 2020, general election.

Some candidates such as Markus Batchelor, Christina Henderson, Franklin Garcia and Eric Rogers, who are running to replace Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) for the non-Democratic seat, have strong ties to the Democratic Party, either through working within the party, as a staffer for an elected official or for a Democrat running for office.

Jayaraman, who serves as the chairman of the 6B Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said the issues he will focus on as a council member will truly define him as an independent.

“During the campaign, I will focus on public safety, economic independence and for a government that works for the people,” he said. “I want to help the city reach its goal of 4,000 sworn officers on the police force. I will also call for a return to vocational education in our school system because everyone doesn’t want to go to college and people should have the opportunity to earn a good living working with a trade.

“I have witnessed firsthand how our city government has failed our residents time and time again while our elected officials focus their time on issues that are not a priority for our citizens,” Jayaraman said. “This was part of the reasons I decided to get involved by running for office.”

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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