CommunityElection 2020

Ward 4 Council Seat Race Features Political Novices

In the Nov. 3 general election, residents of Ward 4 will choose between political newcomer and Democrat Janeese Lewis George and D.C. Statehood Green activist Perry Redd, who once ran for the D.C. Council at-large position, as their next councilmember.

George has never held elected office. She defeated D.C. Councilmember Brandon Todd and resident Marlena Edwards in the June 2 Ward 4 Democratic Party primary. George ran with the support of D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and the backing of progressive groups such as the Jews United for Justice Campaign Fund, Black Lives Matter DC, DC for Democracy and Working Families as well as labor unions such as the Washington Teachers Union, Local 500 of the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400. George, a District native and former assistant attorney general, supports Medicare for All, combating crime from a public health perspective, an environmental platform that includes fully enforcing the D.C. Clean Energy Act and strictly regulating fossil fuels in the city, expanding rent control and fully funding universal child care.

Ward 4 has an 81 percent Democratic Party voter registration and the party’s third largest numerical bloc of Democrats — 51,169 — in the District according to data from the Sept. 30 report of the D.C. Board of Elections. Candace Tiana Nelson, the president of the Ward 4 Democrats said her organization supports George in the general election.

“We didn’t endorse anyone in the June 2 primary,” Nelson said. “We held candidate forums so that the candidates could air their views. The Democrats in Ward 4 made their choice and we are behind George.”

George said she has campaigned without the formal backing of Todd since the primary and has been “seeking to reach out to the people.”

“Our campaign launched a ‘Listen While We Climb Tour’ that started on July 15 and ended on Sept. 23,” she said. “We visited each neighborhood in the ward, from Chevy Chase to Lamond Riggs and invited residents to listen to me and get to know me. At our tour events, we had a range of 50 to 100 residents. After the meetings, we sent surveys through email to participants to find out what their top issues were. We are synthesizing the data to get a sense of what is on the minds of residents.”

George said her campaign has also participated in “meet and greets” and one-to-one meetings with residents and works with its own get-out-the-vote effort that distributes literature on the election process.

Redd describes himself as a progressive, too, and agrees with George on a number of issues. However, he said his candidacy rests on doing the right thing for Ward 4 residents.

“The previous representatives cheated the citizens of Ward 4,” he said. “Ward 4 has the highest rates of COVID-19 infections and one of the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths. We have gentrification in this ward where the newer residents aren’t sensitive to the long-term residents.”

Redd ran for the D.C. Council in the April 23, 2013 special election for the at-large seat vacancy and received 1.92 percent of the vote as the D.C. Statehood Green candidate. Anita Bonds won that race. Redd won the 2018 race for advisory neighborhood commissioner race for single-member district 4B05.

Redd said he is campaigning for term limits for lawmakers, wants to see compensation for advisory neighborhood commissioners, calls for refining the concept of community policing and endorses solar energy jobs for District residents.

He said as a lawmaker he will advocate for returning citizens noting he was convicted of gun and drug charges in Tennessee but the charges were dropped after he served years in federal prison.

Redd acknowledges that George has political advantage but insists that he is waging a grassroots campaign “to fight for the people.”

The race has stirred little attention among ward residents. Bobby Curtis King II resides in the Sixteenth Street Heights neighborhood. He confesses he hasn’t paid attention to the George-Redd race.

“I just starting seeing signs for Perry Redd a week ago,” King said. “I think a lot of people have made up their mind who they will support. I am impressed with George still going out in the community after she won the primary with her listening tour. I think it is great she is making herself available.”

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