Rahman Branch, the former principal at Ballou High School and ex-executive director of the Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs, is almost certain to run for the Democratic nomination for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat in 2024.
“People in the community have approached me about making the race,” Branch told The Informer on Jan. 15. “I am seriously considering doing that. Right now, I am not seeing the outcomes I want to see in the ward. As the council member, I want to be a part of the solution.”
Salim Adofo, the chair of the 8C advisory neighborhood commission, declared his candidacy for the Ward 8 council position in December. D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) has not revealed his plans publicly on whether he will seek reelection in 2024.
Branch served on the faculty of Ballou from 2005-2014. His tenure as the principal started in 2008 and ended in 2014. Branch said as the principal, test scores increased by 20% in three years, decreased school violence by 60% and reduced suspensions by 30%. He said enhanced parental and community engagement led to a school modernization plan for Ballou that added tens of millions of dollars from the initial allotment of $8 million.
As the leader of the city’s African American Affairs Office from 2015-2019, Branch said he wanted to make sure that Black residents felt comfortable in the place once deemed “Chocolate City.” He pushed for city government policies that addressed such concerns as affordable housing, jobs and education. Plus, Branch chaired the Committee for Equity and Access in all neighborhoods as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative and worked with the Urban Institute to publish the State of Black DC, a report on the status of African Americans in the city.
He presently works as an educational consultant.
Branch said he sees public safety, health and education as challenges for many Ward 8 residents. He said the outcomes in those areas can change if ideas from the community are considered, relationships with city leaders are fostered and residents get behind the need for change.
The former leader of the mayoral office said he doesn’t offer Ward 8 voters the traditional political leader resume of having served as an advisory neighborhood commissioner or some other elected office or volunteered as an officer in the Ward 8 Democrats.
“I have served in the mayor’s office,” he said. “As the former principal of Ballou as well as other educational positions, I know what is going on in the community and what its needs are.”
Branch said he won’t hesitate to reach out to Ward 8 residents west of the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard neighborhood. He also spoke of being humble as the ward’s council member.
“I am not running to be the king of Ward 8,” Branch said. “I don’t have all of the answers. I want to make things better for the people we want to serve.”