D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) has officially put his hat in the ring for the 2018 election, kicking off his re-election campaign with tons of support.
Nearly 100 people gathered Wednesday, Nov. 15 at the second-floor bar of Ivy City Smokehouse for the kickoff of his campaign to show support for his re-election efforts.
In attendance were a number of former and current D.C. officials, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, who was born in the Ward 5 neighborhood of Michigan Park and enthusiastically expressed her support for McDuffie.
“I know what it takes to be a successful ward council member, and that is focusing on policies and laws, but also taking care of your community, and I want to tell you that your council member is doing all of those things,” Bowser said to the Ward 5 supporters. “I look forward to working with [McDuffie] four more years.”
Other officials who attended the kickoff event included Council members Robert White Jr. (D-At Large) and David Grosso (I-At Large) and former Council members LaRuby May (D-Ward 8), Kwame Brown (D-At Large), Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) and Bill Lightfoot (I-At Large).
McDuffie, first elected to the council in a 2012 special election following a failed 2010 bid for the seat, nears the end of his first full term after overwhelmingly winning the seat in the 2014 general election.
“About a week ago, we did something very special in Virginia and we have a chance to do that in D.C.,” said McDuffie’s childhood friend and Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax, who became the only the second African-American to win the post earlier this month.
“I can’t think of a better, more powerful more example of the American dream than my friend, Kenyan McDuffie,” Fairfax said. “He is someone who exemplifies what is possible when we create opportunity, when we allow people to get a high-quality education, when we provide people with advancements opportunities.
“Kenyan has always stood up for every single person to make sure that they get the same shot that he was blessed to have,” Fairfax said.
McDuffie said he and Fairfax grew up in the Ward 5 Stronghold neighborhood where they often witnessed violent crime. After graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School, he sold ice cream at the zoo and then worked as a mail carrier for the United States Postal Service for four years before enrolling in college and later law school.
“Growing up in Stronghold, I didn’t always think there was a bright future for me,” McDuffie said. “I ran so that those kids in Langston Carver Terrance, Brentwood, and Edgewood could understand that with a little hard work and support, that they could change their outcomes.”
McDuffie previously chaired the Council’s judiciary committee where he passed juvenile justice reform that ended the use of solitary confinement, life sentences and arbitrary shackling of juveniles in court. He passed legislation that bans the use of criminal backgrounds checks in housing and unfair credit checks in employment, and the NEAR Act which establishes the use of public health methods in the District’s criminal justice system.
Since 2013, he has held his second-in-command post in the Council as the Chairman Pro Tempore. He also currently chairs the Council’s Committee on Business and Economic Development, where he said he is working to continue the growth of the District’s economy and create opportunities for small businesses to get a fair chance to take part in the growth, as well as oust businesses who have been “bad neighbors” to his constituents.
“The legislative wins have been good, and we’ve made some progress in Ward 5,” McDuffie said. “Along major corridors like Rhode Island Avenue, North Capital Street and New York Avenue, we’ve seen new retail priority areas, new main streets, new clean teams.”
He stands against two challengers, Amone Banks and Gayle Carley, in the June 19 primary election.