- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 7, 2006

About 30 candidates are vying in the Democratic primary Tuesday for nominations that likely will secure seats on the D.C. Council.

In the spotlight is the at-large contest for council chairman, which pits council member Kathy Patterson of Ward 3 against fellow member Vincent C. Gray of Ward 7.

But the most intriguing races could be for council seats in Wards 3 and 5, where crowded fields of front-runners and dark horses are vying to replace Mrs. Patterson and Vincent B. Orange Sr., who is running for mayor.

In Ward 3, the campaigns of former District Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Rice and D.C. “shadow senator” Paul Strauss have raised nearly $155,000 and $121,000, respectively, financial reports show.

Mr. Rice and Mr. Strauss have campaigned on the importance of fixing the public school system.

Also running for the Ward 3 seat are Eric Goulet, who at 29 is the youngest candidate in the race and has stressed financial fixes for the city; Erik S. Gaull, a former director of operational improvements under Mayor Anthony A. Williams who has been endorsed by the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police; Mary M. Cheh, a law professor at George Washington University; and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Cathy Wiss, who has won strong support among fellow commissioners.

“It’s hard to pick a front-runner,” said Robert M. Brandon, chairman of the Ward 3 Democrats. “Somebody could win with 3,000 votes.”

The slate of candidates is even longer in Ward 5, where 11 are seeking the Democratic nomination for the council seat.

Business executives Harry “Tommy” Thomas Jr. of Brookland and Frank Wilds of Lamond Riggs are the front-runners. Mr. Thomas has raised nearly $105,000, and Mr. Wilds about $97,000.

The two candidates were the top vote-getters at a party forum in July, and both have pledged to work for a safer community and improved schools.

In Ward 6, D.C. school board member Tommy Wells has raised $145,749, more than four times what his competitors have collected in campaign funds.

Mr. Wells, who has represented District 3 on the Board of Education since 2001, has stressed community development in his campaign “for a livable and walkable community.”

His competitors are Curtis L. Etherly Jr., a vice president of public affairs for Coca-Cola, and Leo Pinson, a former neighborhood services coordinator in the Williams administration.

The contests for the Ward 1 seat and an at-large council seat pit incumbents against newcomers.

Real estate consultant Chad Williams is seeking to unseat council member Jim Graham in Ward 1, which includes Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant.

Mr. Graham has raised about $220,000 for his re-election campaign, compared with Mr. Williams’ nearly $104,000.

A. Scott Bolden, a lawyer and former president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, aims to oust at-large council member Phil Mendelson.

Mr. Bolden has outraised Mr. Mendelson by more than $200,000 in campaign funds.

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