- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 7, 2004

D.C. Council member Sandy Allen yesterday accused former Mayor Marion Barry, her main rival in next week’s primary election, of feigning interest in Ward 8 issues with the sole motive of reviving his political career.

“He professes his care for the community, [but] I’ve been in office eight years now and I can count on one hand the number of times Mr. Barry has contacted me,” said Mrs. Allen, 60, a Democrat. “Never was it about the concerns that he is currently campaigning on.”

She said Mr. Barry, 68, only contacted her office as a paid lobbyist for developers. “I think that if he had true interest in improving the ward, [Mr. Barry] did not have to be the council member to get involved,” she said.

Mrs. Allen, who was Mr. Barry’s campaign manager when he won the Ward 8 council seat in 1992, had not criticized her Democratic opponent until yesterday, just one week before the Sept. 14 primary.

Mr. Barry responded, saying his absence from local politics was explained by his decision to quit public life in 2002. He bowed out of the race for an at-large council seat that year after U.S. Park Police said they found drugs in his car.

“I had retired from electoral politics,” he said. “There was no reason for me to be interested in the issues of Ward 8. … I was trying to stay out of politics.”

He said he decided to run again at the urging of residents. He said people had swarmed him at the Safeway supermarket, venting their dissatisfaction with conditions in Ward 8. “They tell me, ‘We need you now,’” he said.

Mr. Barry enjoys a folk-hero status in Ward 8. His fame alone might be enough to beat Mrs. Allen and advance his third political comeback in a decade, despite concerns about his faltering health.

A prostate-cancer survivor who has diabetes and high blood pressure, Mr. Barry says he is strong enough to serve. He does discuss his recovery from addiction, in keeping within the tenets of the 12-step programs of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Mrs. Allen said that if voters elect Mr. Barry, “it will take Ward 8 back eight years and [they] will lose the respect of the city as a whole.”

Many of the ward’s political heavyweights who backed Mr. Barry in the past, including the Rev. Willie F. Wilson of the Union Temple Baptist Church, have endorsed Mrs. Allen.

Yesterday, Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Allen were campaigning together, in the morning conducting a cleanup on Buena Vista Terrace SE and then in the evening going door to door in the Anacostia neighborhood surrounding Mr. Wilson’s church.

Mr. Barry’s first three terms as mayor ended with a 1990 crack-cocaine arrest and six months in federal prison. He returned to win the Ward 8 council seat in 1992 and then the mayor’s office in 1994 for his fourth term. However, Congress in 1995 sapped most of the mayor’s powers by instituting a control board to run the city. Mr. Barry declined to run again in 1998.

Mr. Barry attempted a comeback in 2002 with a bid for an at-large council seat. He abandoned the race after U.S. Park Police said they found the candidate sitting in his Jaguar in a Southwest park and a search revealed traces of crack cocaine and marijuana. No charges were filed.


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