Grosso upsets incumbent Brown in D.C. Council bid

Upstart competes
 for one of two at-large seats

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With a victory in the chairman’s race, Mr. Mendelson will leave his at-large seat on the council. The city will likely schedule a special election for this spring to fill the seat, and candidates who fell short in Tuesday’s at-large race should be in a good position to run in the wide-open contest with no incumbents.

Asked Tuesday night if he would consider such a run, Mr. Brown simply said, “I’m not even there yet.”

From the start, Mr. Orange was the Democratic nominee in the left-leaning District and therefore considered a lock for one of the two at-large seats in play.

Mr. Brown had more of a race on his hands in the fight for the remaining, non-majority party seat. Over the summer, Mr. Brown announced that more than $100,000 had been stolen from his campaign, supposedly by a trusted aide. He has also been dogged by questions about his personal finances because of tax liens and The Washington Post reported on his poor driving record. Yet Mr. Brown — first elected to the council in 2008 — had momentum on his side as both an incumbent and a familiar name to voters who remember his late father, Ron Brown, who served in President Clinton’s Cabinet.

Two voters at the Shepherd Park precinct, Arthur Lafave and Robert Burger, said Tuesday morning they voted for Mr. Grosso and Leon Swain Jr., an independent, to bring new blood onto a council that has been marred by scandal.

“All new faces,” Mr. Burger said.

Among other races, unopposed incumbents Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, and Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat, were tapped to serve four more years at city hall.

“Mayor for life” Marion Barry, a Democrat, followed up his resounding primary victory last spring with what looked like a breezy win over independent challenger Jauhar Abraham to retain his Ward 8 seat on the council.

Mr. Barry, however, was a vocal critic of operations Tuesday at polling sites across the city, citing small spaces for voters that were especially hard on seniors and the limited number of electronic machines, which he considers faster and more accurate than paper ballots. He said the popularity of early voting should have been a clear indication that city residents planned to come out in droves on Election Day.

He called on Ms. Bowser, chairman of the Committee on Government Operations, to conduct an investigation of electoral procedures in the city to make sure the District is ready for its 2014 mayoral race.

“It’s not rocket science,” he said Tuesday. “I’ve gotten nothing but complaints today.”

Voters also approved three proposed amendments to the D.C. Charter that makes it easier to remove lawmakers or a mayor from office, a reminder of the ethical cloud hanging over city government. The first one asked voters whether the council, by a vote of 5/6 of the members, should be able to expel a fellow member for a “gross failure” of the office’s standards of conduct. The next two questions asked whether a council member or the mayor should be “ineligible to remain in office and ineligible to ever hold the office again” if he or she is convicted of a felony while in office.

Malika Moore, a Michigan Park resident who voted at the Bunker Hill Educational Campus in Ward 5, said she voted for Michael A. Brown — she did not select a second — and in favor of all three ballot questions.

“There’s been a lot of controversy,” she said of the council. “I think having the option to remove people who do illegal activities is a good thing to have.”

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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