Vincent Orange (Courtesy photo)

Former D.C. Council member Vincent Orange wants to return to the District’s legislative body by reclaiming his old seat as the Ward 5 lawmaker and reminding voters of his experience and successes.

“VO is back,” Orange told the Informer on Oct. 21. “I plan to make my candidacy public for the Ward 5 seat on or before Nov. 4. This is now an open seat. I did a lot for a ward when I represented it on the Council. I intend to be an effective representative again for Ward 5.”

Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), opting not to seek a third council term, will make a bid to become the city’s second elected attorney general in 2022.

In his bid to regain the Ward 5 council position, Orange faces D.C. State Board of Education President Zachary Parker, Ward 5 Democrats President Gordon Fletcher and former Bowser administration leader Faith Gibson Hubbard in the Democratic Party primary. Franklin Garcia, the former D.C. shadow representative, will serve as his campaign chairman.

Elections to D.C. Council

Orange represented Ward 5 from 1999 to 2007. He also held an at-large council member post as a Democrat from 2011 to 2016. Council member Robert White defeated Orange in the June 2016 Democratic Party primary and a few months later, Orange stepped down from his seat due to concerns about whether he could serve on the legislative body and be the president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, an entity that lobbies the Council on business interests in the city.

Orange’s Preliminary Platform

Orange said he wants to replicate his success as a council member in bringing economic development to the ward.

“When I came on the council in 1999, Ward 5 was a food desert,” he said. “Because of my efforts, you have Home Depot and a Giant supermarket, as well as development in the Fort Totten and Catholic University areas. I also helped to bring about the new McKinley Tech High School and Noyes Education Campus.”

Orange said if reelected in 2022, he would focus on increasing green space in the ward, ensuring the public safety of the residents and would work with the Brookland Manor community for better housing and amenities. He also recognizes that the ward has changed demographically.

Orange represented the ward when the 2000 census reported it had an 86 percent Black population. However, the 2020 census revealed the African-American percentage of Ward 5 at 55 percent. Orange said he wants to “represent everyone in Ward 5.”

“I have always had an extensive outreach in the ward,” he said. “Ward 5 is an attractive place to live and it has all of the amenities. As a matter of fact, it was me that laid the ground for the creation of Union Market.”

Orange noted that on behalf of District residents, he helped to pass the $15 an hour minimum wage, support five days of paid sick leave for employees in the city, advocated for the rights of transgender people and made it comfortable for food trucks and brick-and-mortar eateries to exist alongside each other.

Thoughts on Orange’s Candidacy

Kathy Henderson, a former Ward 5 advisory neighborhood commissioner, said, “Mr. Orange has the right to do whatever he wants to do.”

“I think he should run for the Council but not the Ward 5 seat,” Henderson said. “I think he needs to go higher. Running for the ward seat, in my opinion, is going backward.”

Even so, Henderson said, Orange will be a formidable candidate for reelection to his former seat.

“He had an excellent legislative record representing the ward,” she said. “He did do a good job.”

Longtime Ward 5 activist Frank Wilds agrees with Henderson of Orange’s performance as the ward council member. However, he said Orange should pursue the Ward 5 seat.

“Vincent Orange knows the ward,” Wilds said. “He knows the homeowners and the seniors in the ward. He knows what the issues are and people still remember all of the great work he did. He deserves a shot at serving in that same position again.”

James Wright Jr.

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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