Seven candidates run for open seats on DC Council

Voters heading to the polls in the district will see seven candidates on their ballot competing for two at-large seats for DC Council.

One of the seats is reserved for a non-Democrat.

With former councilmembers Harry Thomas and Kwame Brown convicted of crimes and resigning in the past year, the debates and media coverage of the race have been focused on ethics and character.

As the only democrat in the at-large council race, Vincent Orange is expected to easily win re-election.{ }

"I have a record of achievement that is second to none in the areas of education, employment, economic development and ethics," Orange said.

Critics point out Orange reportedly collected about $25,000 in campaign money from contractor Jeffrey Thompson, who's the focus of an ongoing federal investigation into Mayor Vincent Gray's alleged 2010 shadow campaign.

But Orange says he's done nothing wrong.

"I'm pleased the office of campaign finance has cleared my 2011 special election of any wrong that, that cloud has been removed I have no idea what they're talking about," Orange continued.

Independent Michael Brown, the the other incumbent, says he's proud of his council record.

"I made some promises four years ago. I promised I'd fight for affordable housing, now I'm a champion of affordable housing. I told them I'd fight for job creation programs, now i'm a champion of job creation programs," Michael Brown exclaimed.

But Brown has been criticized for what some call "a lack of transparency" during the controversial passage of online gaming.

Brown's driver's license was reportedly suspended several times and more than $100,000 went missing from his campaign fund. Brown's top challenger, Independent Davis Grosso, also point to personal financial issues.

Grosso has worked for former Councilwoman Sharon Ambrose and Delegate Eleanor Holes Norton. Endorsed by the Washington Post, Grosso says if elected, he would make campaign finance reform one of his top priorities.

"When we look at corporate donations in the past 5-10 years, the corporations in the city have really run the city and rightfully so. They've gone in because they have an interest in the city, but it's time for the people to take back the government, and that's what I'm offering," Grosso explained.

Mary Brooks Beatty, a former Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commission member, also vows to fight cronyism by blocking council from negotiating government contracts.

As a Republican, she argues, she offers a fresh perspective.

"One party system always corrupts regardless of whether that's Republicans or Democrats,' Beatty added.

Also on the ballot: Independent Leon Swain, a former police officer in the district and taxicab commissioner; Independent A.J. Cooper, a former BET host, who now works at the DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy; and
Statehood Green Candidate Ann C. Wilcox, a First Amendment lawyer.

District voters will also select a new council chairman. Interim Phil Mendelson is likely to win. If he does, that will create a new opening - Mendelson's at-large seat, which is designated for a Democratic candidate.

Some political observers say it's possible whoever does not win the Nov. 6{ } at-large race could run in that special election, even if that means changing party affiliation.