By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, jwright@afro.com

“The reason some Black men have problems getting a job is because of drugs being in their system when they’re getting tested,” D.C. Council member Anita Bonds said during her first stop on the re-election campaign trail.

She shared these thoughts at the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization’s First Fridays meeting April 6. There she discussed what she’s done in office, her plans for the future, and the concerns of District residents. Bonds, who won the 2013 special election to permanently fill Council Chairman Phil Mendelson’s spot and the election to a full four-year term in 2014,  is the only African-American woman on the D.C. Council.

Anita Bonds, a Democratic at-large member of the D.C. Council, said recently Black men have difficulty getting jobs because they have drugs in their systems. (Courtesy Photo)

“As a member of the council, I am committed to increasing our quality of life and insuring all residents get the services from the city that they need, especially those who have the greatest needs. I am running for re-election to put people first.”

Employment and housing concerns for African-American residents was a major topic of conversation. “We need long term solutions to affordable housing and to help D.C. residents to become financially independent and economically strong,” she said.

The council member wants to expand the Home Purchase Assistance Program down payment limit from $80,000 to $120,000 and has legislation to help public housing residents increase their credit scores by counting rent payments in their credit histories. Bonds, who grew up in the Benning Ridge section of Ward 7, supports the development of The Strand Theater on Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue and proposes that 26 of the 86 upscale residential units be available to people at market rate.

While she is neutral on Amazon setting up its second headquarters in the District, she contends if D.C. is chosen for the new main office, its residents should benefit from the 50,000 jobs it will bring. “Amazon should have a package deal for the District too,” she said. “It will bring thousands of jobs and we need District residents for those jobs. Amazon should provide coaching for those jobs.”

While the conversation about housing and employment offered certain solutions, some guests found it hard to believe Bonds comment on Black men having trouble finding employment because  of illegal substances in their bodies while being tested. That comment had her opponent, political newcomer Marcus Goodwin, who attended the meeting, shaking his head.

“You heard what she just said,” Goodwin told the AFRO. “She said that Black males have dirty urine. The community deserves better than that. We need real solutions because a lot of people are in economic distress.”

District residents noted that Bonds has skipped some candidate forums in the past. However, she said it was done for strategic reasons and is ready to engage residents in her quest for re-election. “I turned in my petitions on March 21 and so far, they haven’t been challenged,” Bonds told the AFRO. “That’s not the case for Mr. Goodwin.”

Goodwin confirmed that Jeremiah Lowery, another candidate in the race, is challenging the signatures on his petition. Aaron Holmes is also running for this seat.

Bonds said she will participate in the Ward 8 Democrats at-large forum on April 21 and continue her public engagement. “I have been doing this for years and I won’t stop now,” she said.