No one emerged as a clear-cut winner in a recent Ward 8 Council debate at the Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center in Southeast moderated by Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes.

The closely-contested race between incumbent LaRuby May and challenger Trayon White remained as heated and as it has been since last year’s special election.

White reminded voters that his last campaign, while underfunded and up against a candidate endorsed by unions and the mayor, only finished 80 votes shy of an upset.

“You gotta restore power to the people because whoever is giving you the money – that’s who you’re going to be accountable to,” White said. “Ward 8 is not for sale.”

May reminded senior voters of her track record of accomplishments on their behalf such as adding $100,000 to the budget for transportation to recreation events and creating a position for a person dedicated to senior legal services at the Office of the Attorney General.

First-time candidate and Ward 8 native Aaron Holmes showed a grasp of the issues and made valid points, but the audience had largely decided whom they supported before the debate began. When polled 20 minutes into the debate, only a handful of people in the packed room remained undecided.

Residents expressed concerns about affordable housing for seniors, public safety and legislation that hurts seniors. One undecided voter asked about her Pension Exclusion being repealed.

“The last couple of years the City Council has passed laws that greatly affect retirees,” she said. “You seem to be doing things to push us out of the city. I was born here. I have no desire to move. You keep passing laws – like they told me I had to have a license for my dog, $50 every year, to take him to the doggie park. Where is the doggie park in Ward 8?”

All candidates pledged to ensure that Ward 8 residents benefit from the city’s economic development. Each candidate promised to protect residents who have survived the city’s hardest times from being priced out of the city as the District enjoys prosperity.

“We just gave a billionaire $50 million to build a stadium,” White said. “That’s all well and good but we got homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks right beside it.”

May added that Ward 8 is “education poor, we’re housing poor, we’re employment poor, and this didn’t just happen over the 11 months that I’ve been in office.”

“This happened over decades and over generations,” she said. “We need to improve our physical and mental health and educational health so we can move from poverty to prosperity.”

At-large Council member Vincent Orange didn’t attend but his challengers David Garber and Robert Wright made informed and impassioned appeals to voters. Garber emphasized how his experience as a two-term ANC taught him that responding to constituents is imperative to success. He was the only candidate who suggested hiring more police officers.

Robert Wright, a lawyer, suggested campaign finance reform, better oversight of police and equal employment and educational opportunities across the city.

Editor’s Note: Ward 8 Democrats Endorse White

Editor’s Note: Ward 8 Democrats Endorse White

Ward 8 Democrats voted to endorse Trayon White to become the next Council member from Ward 8 in the June 14 Democratic primary. he endorsement of the non-incumbent followed a lively debate last week where four of the five candidates shared their plans for the Ward. ANC Commissioner Troy Donte’ Prestwood moderated the event, held at Anacostia High.

With 199 votes cast, White received 135, or 68 percent of the vote. Council member LaRuby May, absent from the forum, took second with 50 votes, or 23 percent. Aaron Holmes, Maurice T. Dickens and Bonita Goode, garnered eight, two and two votes, respectively.

Candidates must receive at least 60 percent of the vote in order to receive an endorsement. In an earlier forum, Ward 8 Democrats voted to endorse at-large Council member Vincent Orange with 68 percent of the vote. The D.C. Democratic primary takes place on Tuesday, June 14.

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