For more than a month, The Washington Informer has attempted to secure an interview with Ward 8 D.C. Council member Trayon White to discuss his plan and platform as he seeks to become the next mayor of the District.
But to date, we have been met with postponements, cancellations and other challenges that have frustrated our best efforts. Still, we have not given up and remain cautiously optimistic.
White will challenge Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council member Robert White (D-At Large), and several others, in the mayoral Democratic primary that will take place on June 21.
But with the clock continuing to tick, we have asked a few Ward 8 residents their views on White’s candidacy.
D.C. State Board of Education at-large member Jacque Patterson said he generally supports White’s aspirations and thinks his entry into the mayor’s race will raise issues that might not otherwise be discussed.
“However, I do have concerns about whether Trayon White has citywide appeal,” Patterson said. “I think he will do well in Ward 8 and in Ward 7, but in Wards 1, 2 and 3, he may have some problems. Wards 1, 2 and 3 have certain perceptions of executive expectations that are different from Wards 5, 6, 7 and 8.”
Patterson said that in order to be successful in the race, White must convince voters in Wards 1, 2 and 3 that he will maintain the level of city services they expect. He said White will do a good job articulating the concerns of residents east of the Anacostia River.
Patterson said White should try to mimic the mayor of a nearby city in terms of reaching out and getting the support of people outside of his Ward 8 base.
“Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is a good example that White should follow,” Patterson said. “Scott has done well in balancing the concerns of the poor in that city and those who are well-to-do. Scott served on the Baltimore city council and as its president, so he has had the time to know the whole city and what the needs of its residents are.”
However, there are some residents who remain skeptical about White’s effectiveness as the next mayor.
“I think Trayon White is the worst thing that has happened to Ward 8,” said Stephen A. Slaughter, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner. “While he has been on the council, he hasn’t passed a decent piece of legislation benefitting the ward. He should not be a candidate to be the next mayor of our city. He cannot take the city to the next level.”
Former commissioner Joe Johnson said White shouldn’t run because he can’t win.
“I think White will have a hard time beating Muriel Bowser for re-election,” Johnson said. “I think he may end up taking votes away from Bowser, with Robert White in the race. He will take votes from somebody but he won’t win.”
Johnson said White should focus on the needs of Ward 8 residents.
“He can do better for Ward 8,” he said. “I don’t see a future Mayor Trayon White.”
Stuart Anderson, a longtime civic and political activist, has supported White’s past campaigns. But he said he agrees in principle with Johnson that White should focus on his council duties.
“Council member White should focus on obtaining more tenure on the council,” Anderson said. “Let’s say he were to win the mayor’s race this year. The ward would have to elect another council member and that person would be a rookie on the council, at the bottom. That would be a disservice to the ward. Tenure gives a council member more opportunities to obtain resources and programs for constituents.”
Anderson said White should be using his organization on getting the best results for redrawing advisory neighborhood commission lines and educating residents about the economic opportunities available with the likely development of Poplar Point.
Poplar Point, a 110-acre site on the eastern shores of the Anacostia River, will become property of the District from the federal government in the near future and Anderson stressed that Ward 8 residents should be involved in the economic development projects that could be there.
“Redistricting, focusing on how the ward can benefit from Poplar Point and gaining more seniority on the council should be his focus,” Anderson said. “That is more important than running for mayor.”