The race to replace D.C. Council member Anita Bonds has a millennial feel to it as Aaron Holmes, a 34-year-old resident of Ward 8, has joined the fray to knock off the incumbent next year. Holmes is a well-known political activist who unsuccessfully ran for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat in 2016. He wants to take his political ambitions citywide because he says it is time for a change in the District of Columbia’s legislative body.

Aaron Holmes, a resident of Ward 8, is one of several people running for the At-Large Council seat against Anita Bonds. (Courtesy photo)

“Each Washingtonian has more in common than they do different,” Holmes told the AFRO. “My vision for our government is that we represent each person at each station in their life, prioritizing empathy, ownership and opportunity. This city has everything it needs to tackle its toughest challenges and I am not afraid to take those big issues on.”

Holmes said that the city is “so rich we have the people, resources and political will to achieve the ultimate goal of government, to create improvement in people’s lives, especially around housing, education and public safety.”

Holmes is a 2001 graduate of Oxon Hill High School in Temple Hill, Md. and he has taken classes at the University of Maryland, College Park. He attends church at Community of Hope AME Church in Temple Hill, Md.

In addition to Bonds, Holmes will face millennials Jeremiah Lowery, Marcus Goodwin, and Justin Green in the June 19, 2018 Democratic Party primary.

Holmes said that gentrification, education and public safety are the main planks of his platform. On gentrification, he said if elected, he will work to keep longtime residents in the city. “Gentrification is a matrix issue,” he said. “We want to make sure that we hang on to our legacy residents whether they live in Anacostia or Georgetown.”

Holmes said public education in the District seems to become too commercialized. “I live in a ward that has 24 charter schools and one full-service grocery store,” he said. “Public education has become a business in these neighborhoods and I don’t like that. This city needs to have a public discussion on what the future of public education looks like.”

Public safety is a concern Holmes is very familiar with. He deals with the issue directly as a resident of Ward 8 which has a reputation for being unsafe. Crime statistics show that homicides in Ward 8 have risen over the past year. as being “unsafe” and  In addition he has a nonprofit, MyPD, which takes police officers into the schools. “We break up children into small discussion clusters with police officers,” he said. “They talk to the officers about what is going on in their neighborhoods and the officers’ talk to the students about their responsibilities and duties. We are working to improve police-community relations.”

Holmes said that 90 percent of the participating students say it improves their perception of the police officers and 65 percent say that they will consider law enforcement as a career.

Holmes said that the program has 1,000 students, in 15 schools citywide and 50 police officers are participants.

He said the program will ignite a personal interest once he gets on the council. “One of my goals as a council member is to see more D.C. residents join the police department,” he said.

Bonds has served on the D.C. Council since December 2012, when she took the at-large position of present D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D).

Bonds told the AFRO that she is running for re-election and is focused on serving her constituents.

Kevin B. Chavous, president of the District of Columbia Young Democrats, told the AFRO that he is aware of Holmes’s candidacy. “It’s good when you have millennials running for office and that is something to be commended for putting yourself out there in that manner,” he said. “A crowded field tends to benefit the incumbent. To me, there seems to be a lack of strategy and conversations on their part. It’s tough to win when you have three or four people in the same race.”

Chavous didn’t say whom he would support but added that Bonds, as chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, has been supportive of his organization.

Eugene Puryear ran for the council in 2014 as a candidate for the DC Green Statehood Party. Puryear told the AFRO that Holmes will need to think outside the box to win. “He must not forget the marginal and forgotten community,” Puryear said. “He must work to change the paradigm from development to growth.”