D.C. Mayor Fenty, Council Chair Gray Butt Heads Over Commencement Speaker Duties

368

The Washington, D.C. mayoral election between incumbent Adrian Fenty and City Council Chairman Vincent Gray has already been a bumpy ride—and things may have just gotten bumpier.

Another disagreement between the pair emerged during the week of June 7 when both were slated to address the 2010 graduating class of Dunbar Senior High School.

According to reports, Fenty had been formally invited back in April to address the graduating seniors on June 8 in ceremonies at Howard University’s Crampton Auditorium.

But Gray—a Dunbar alumnus—claims he got an informal invitation to speak as well. He said that as a Dunbar graduate, he should have been given priority.

“This is something that should be above politics . . .  because when you have an opportunity to come back and be part of your old high school, that is an absolute wonderful moment,” Gray told reporters. “I was asked verbally to do this and I agreed to do that for those who informally asked.”

Gray made his remarks before quickly leaving the auditorium. Gray, a D.C. native and graduate of George Washington University, is an architect of Covenant House’s programs for homeless youths in Southeast and Northeast D.C.

Fenty, on the other hand, appeared unfazed, telling reporters that he hadn’t been aware of any mix-up. “I didn’t know that this was an issue,” he was quoted as saying.

Although Fenty ended up delivering the commencement speech, he was clearly not the crowd’s choice. As he approached the podium, the mayor was received with widespread boos intermingled with a few audible cheers.

As the mayor’s race heats up, Fenty is in the hot seat to reconnect with the city’s majority Black residents who overwhelmingly voted him into office in 2006.

He has been on the city council since 2000, and prior to that, garnered political experience working as an intern for Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II. Gray has been on the City Council since 2005. He successfully ran for council chairman in 2006.