Vincent Orange is running for another term as D.C. Council At-large member. (AFRO File Photo)

On April 23, D.C. Council member Vincent Orange (At-large-D) got the support of over 60 percent of Ward 8 Democrats in a straw poll that took place at the St. Elizabeth’s Auditorium in Southeast D.C. This was a major endorsement in his quest for re-election.

“Vincent Orange is our candidate,” Ward 8 Democrats President Charles Wilson told the AFRO after the votes were counted. Orange had 88 votes while challengers Robert White got 36 and David Garber only had three.

“I love Ward 8,” the councilmember said. “I am always in Ward 8 and I have presented results that the people can count on.”

The three contenders are competing for the Democratic nomination for one of the two at-large seats to be decided in the Nov. 8 general election. Traditionally, the at-large Democratic nominee is a favorite in the general election for one of the seats because of the District’s 10 to 1 Democratic Party registration. Orange will be competing with White and Garber on June 14 for the Democratic primary.

The other seat in the general election, by mandate of the District’s Home Rule Charter, must go to a non-democrat. Grosso, G. Lee Aikin (G), Asha Carter (G) and Carolina Celnik (R) are running for the seat.

The Ward 8 Democrats’ endorsement is important because it is a ward with a high percentage of registered Democrats – 83 percent – and it has served as a trendsetter in District mayoral and at-large races in the past 10 years. For example, then Ward 4 D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser defeated incumbent D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in the January 2014 straw poll that created momentum for her to win the Democratic Party mayoral nomination on April 1, 2014.

Orange served on the D.C. Council from 1999-2007 as a Ward 5 representative and won a special election in April 2011 as a Democratic at-large member. He was re-elected to his position in 2012.

White is an attorney and the president of the Brightwood Park Citizens Association. He has worked as a legislative assistant for D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) in the areas of transportation and economic development and in community affairs for D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.

White ran unsuccessfully as an independent in the November 2014 general election for one of the two D.C. Council at-large seats. D.C. Council member Anita Bonds won the Democratic seat and the non-Democratic seat was taken by independent Elissa Silverman.

Garber has worked as a substitute teacher for the D.C. public schools system and has been elected as the advisory neighborhood commissioner for district 6D07 in 2010 and was re-elected in 2012.

In addition to the straw poll, Orange, White, and Garber participated in a candidates’ forum. The candidates agreed that more affordable housing should be available to District residents. Also, there needs to be improvement in terms of public safety and there should be some extension of paid leave for new parents.

However, the disagreement occurred when White was asked why he changed from being an Independent to a Democrat to run in the race. “I will do political cartwheels to step up to the plate to serve ,” he said.

Orange immediately responded, “I don’t believe in all of this flip-flopping.”