Vincent Orange’s Aug. 15 resignation from the D.C. Council has resulted in several changes – the selection of Robert White to finish his term and a change in the Council’s committee structure. Orange was defeated in the June 14 Democratic Party at-large primary by Robert White, an activist who lives in the Brightwood section of Ward 4.


D.C. Council Democratic Candidate Robert White was recently selected to fill Vincent Orange’s council seat for the remainder of the year. (Courtesy Photo)

Orange resigned to become president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. To fill his position, White was selected on Sept. 15 to finish out the remainder of Orange’s term by a vote of the D.C. Democratic State Committee. White was elated at his selection. “I look forward to bringing immediate and transparent representation to the council for the final months of the 2016 Council period,” he said.

White was sworn into office on Sept. 16 and has already selected Mtokufa Ngwenya, a District political activist, as his chief of staff. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said that White will serve on the committees that Orange belonged to.

He won’t, however, assume Orange’s former committee chairmanship. On Sept. 19, Mendelson announced that the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs that Orange chaired will be folded into the Committee of the Whole, which he chairs, and will be given new parameters until the end of the remainder of the calendar year.

“I have decided to move the work of the committee to four new subcommittees,” Mendelson said. “ Council member Charles Allen will chair the subcommittee dealing with business development and utilities, Council member Silverman will chair the workforce subcommittee, Brianne Nadeau will chair the consumer affairs subcommittee and Brandon Todd will oversee boards and commissions.”

Mendelson said that this is the first time the subcommittee structure has been used since the early 2000s. He said that the use of subcommittees changes the legislative process of a bill going through the council.

As a result of the change, a bill dealing with the issues that the subcommittees handle will go to them and if legislation passes at the subcommittee level, it would go to the Committee of the Whole. No other council committee has subcommittees.

Allen, a Democrat who represents Ward 6, embraces the chairman’s re-organization. “While there are only a few months left in this Council period, I look forward to chairing this subcommittee for the final months of the year,” he said. “I plan to focus on supporting our growing local businesses and continued oversight of important programs such as Certified Business Enterprises, Main Streets and Business Improvement Districts.”

“Robert will be a part of the four subcommittees and serve on the Committee on Finance and Revenue and Housing and Community Development,” the chairman said. “We did this because it was the least disruptive of the process.”

While White is settling in to the council, D.C. Council member LaRuby May (D-Ward 8) is working on her exit strategy. May, who lost to Trayon White in the June 14 Ward 8 Democratic primary, told a meeting of the Ward 8 Democrats on Sept. 17, that she will be busy during the last months of the council period.

“I will work to pass the “Death with Dignity bill,” May said, referring to legislation sponsored by D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) that will allow terminally ill patients the option of physician-assisted suicide. “I know that some people are uncomfortable with that bill and I will work to educate them about it.”

May said she will meet with the chairman of every council committee to review bills that affect Ward 8 residents “and work to get them through the legislative process.”

“Trayon White has also agreed to come to those meetings,” May said. “Mr. White will work with us to get those bills passed. He and I are on the same page.”

In a related matter, Mendelson said he is interested in reviewing legislation on the re-naming of public buildings in honor of the late Marion Barry, a D.C. Council member and four-term mayor. “I do have that issue on my agenda,” he said. “We will be looking at that during the fall.”

Both Robert White and Trayon White will be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.