By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray served on the Council before being mayor and most recently has held the seat of Ward 7 Council member since 2016. While the incumbent has a resume filled with experience, a local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and attorney, Veda Rasheed, is hoping to dethrone Gray in the primary on June 2.
“Ward 7 has been stagnant for a long time. It’s time for change, new energy, new commitment, new vision, fresh ideas,” Rasheed told the AFRO in a Facebook Live interview.
As a native Washingtonian, leader, attorney and mother Rasheed, said she is ready to serve as Ward 7 City Council member because she knows the issues of the community.
Veda Rasheed is running for Ward 7 Council member and will appear on the June 2 primary ballot. (Courtesy Photo)
“Each community has a different issue, and I know as an attorney and I know as an elected official, in order to serve people, I have to know their issues,” Rasheed said. “I can go to Clay Terrace or Lincoln Heights and public safety might be an issue for them. I can go to Hillcrest or Penn Branch and people want economic development. And I can go to Mayfair, Paradise or Eastland Gardens and infrastructure and transportation is an issue- getting in and getting out,” she explained.
With a pulse on the community, Rasheed has a lot of plans for Ward 7.
“Bringing a constituent services office to Ward 7 that’s staffed by people from Ward 7 that’s engaged and responsive- that’s a must- and that’s what I plan to do within 30 days if elected,” she said.
Rasheed said she hopes to bring economic development and quality grocers to the predominantly Black area that is a notorious food desert.
“Economic development is a major issue. We don’t have any quality grocery stores,” Rasheed said. “Anytime you have to go to Safeway and you have to ask them to keep the shelves restocked and we keep having the same issues, we need to look at grocers here that are going to serve the community. One of the things that I’ve committed to do if elected is working with the executive branch to get that done.”
Rasheed even has a few ideas of where these new businesses can be built.
“We have many parcels of land in Ward 7 that remain undeveloped such as Fletcher Johnson, Capital Gateway, where the Wal-Mart was supposed to go, it never came, it’s empty and has been empty for a while,” she said before recommending other sites.
The mother, attorney and local politician is not new to this, she’s true to this- as helping others has been a long-time passion.
“Running for Council- I don’t look at it as a job, I look at it as a calling,” she said. “I’m a mom so I got involved in my community. One of the things that I wanted to do is make sure my community is better than how I was raised in it. Being a mom, raising my kids here, I just started out doing small things- volunteering, helping out,” Rasheed said.
A shooting near where here students were enrolled at KIPP on Benning Road, is what prompted Rasheed to kick into high gear and then a domino effect into community leadership.
“From there I got very involved. I was taking constitutional law so I started emailing people around and was like, ‘we’ve got to bring some awareness to this. This is a problem in our community and we need to find a way to address this together. From there, I started doing a peace rally and just getting more and more involved. Seeing the problems in the community and trying to come up with resources. So then that led me to becoming an ANC Commissioner, so I represent 2,000 residents in my great single-member district of Benning Ridge and from that work I saw a lot of things that needed to change, working with government agencies getting things done,” Rasheed explained.
Spending time in the courtroom further cemented her commitment to making a change in the world.
“Then I went to go work with the Attorney General and I was like, ‘Okay, we’ve got a lot of work to do,’ and just sitting in the courtroom every day I would hear the judges say, ‘We don’t make the laws, we just interpret the laws,’ and I knew from then on I needed to be one of the people making the laws. I needed to be one of those individuals that are getting out there and representing my community,” Rasheed said passionately.
As she campaigns to be Ward 7’s next Council member, Rasheed offered advice on how others can make a difference in their communities.
“Getting involved can be something just as small as picking up trash within your community,” she said. “You see a need, fill a need. your neighbor. There are different levels to being involved. It doesn’t cost anything to give your time to help people out. It’s not always about giving money. You can give time.”