Vincent Orange stepped down as an at-large member of the D.C. Council. By doing so, he ignited an intra-party battle for his seat.
Vincent Orange recently gave up his seat on the D.C. Council so that he could he be the new president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. (AFRO File Photo)
On Aug. 15, Orange formally resigned from the District’s legislative body after a combined 13 years of service. He will assume the presidency of the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce and was anxious to do so. “I would like to thank you for allowing me to provide ‘Service above Self’ as the Ward 5 council member from 1999-2007 and as the at-large member from May 2011 until today,” he told a crowd of 25 gathered to hear his announcement at the John A. Wilson Building. Orange also served as the District’s Democratic National Committee member from 2008-2014.
Orange’s major accomplishments include modernizing McKinley Tech High School, new textbooks for District students, helping to increase the District’s minimum and living wages, sponsoring legislation benefiting Certified Business Enterprises and small businesses, and authoring the bill recognizing D.C. Emancipation Day. However, there are still things Orange would like to see his former colleagues do before the Council period ends Dec. 31.
“I challenge you to pursue free tuition for D.C. residents to earn associate degrees at the University of the District of Columbia, to reduce the digital divide and provide free WiFi and access to the Internet in the nation’s capital, provide mobile shower buses for the homeless, and free personal hygiene products for our homeless women,” he said.
After the announcement, Orange delivered his documents to the Office of the District of Columbia Secretary and D.C. Board of Elections, as required by law.
Orange’s resignation will force the elections board to declare the at-large seat that he held vacant. Then the D.C. Democratic State Committee (DCDSC) will have the obligation to fill the position.
The front-runner to get the position is Robert White, who defeated Orange in the June 14 Democratic Party at-large council seat primary. White wants to serve out the remaining months of Orange’s term and simultaneously run in the November 8 general election for the four-year term starting on Jan. 2, 2017.
“We need leaders who will pull us together so we can focus on finding new ways to build affordable housing, getting our unemployed residents into careers, and building schools that give our kids a real shot,” White said in a statement to the AFRO. “Since Vincent Orange resigned before the end of his term and the law requires the to appoint a replacement, I have asked members of the committee to appoint me, the Democratic nominee, so that I can get to work on these issues immediately and we can avoid unnecessary divisive politics.”
Anita Shelton, a veteran member of the DCDSC, wants the appointment as well. “The next four months are very critical to the residents of this city,” Shelton, a strong advocate for women in politics, told the AFRO. I am the best person represent the people on the council for those four months. I have a long history of working on behalf of the people and I am a loyal Democrat.
Shelton said White needs to focus on the general election. “I think Mr. White should spend his time getting the vote out in November and encouraging people to vote,” she said. “Only 21 percent of the voters showed up for the June 14 primary and that’s not good.” Shelton also said she does not plan on running for the at-large position in the future.
The DCDSC is set to meet on Sept. 10 and will likely choose Orange’s successor. The council is scheduled to resume business on Sept. 20 and is likely to accept the decision of the DCDSC.