- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 6, 2011

Former D.C. Council member Sekou Biddle says he will run in the Democratic primary for an at-large seat, telling voters he will focus on ethics and serving as a role model to young black residents.

Mr. Biddle, a Ward 4 resident, served as an interim council member from January to April, after the D.C. State Democratic Committee appointed him to the at-large seat vacated by council Chairman Kwame R. Brown.

He lost the seat in a special election this year to Vincent B. Orange, whom he will face again in an April Democratic primary.

Mr. Biddle, a former educator and member of the D.C. State Board of Education, received support from several council members before the special election. But some of that support became a liability when Mr. Brown and other council members faced ethics scandals at the start of the year.

“Many voters believe that because I was supported by veteran officeholders I must ‘belong’ to some of them, especially the ones that have lost some popularity,” he told supporters Friday at the Kipp D.C. Leap Academy school in Ward 7. He said his only real commitment is to his “conscience.”

Mr. Biddle said this race will be different because he has more time to handle the day-to-day challenges of campaigning.

“I got an opportunity to see what I can bring to the table,” said Mr. Biddle, whose tenure on the council included a task-force report on student truancy.

Like Mr. Orange, Mr. Biddle appears to be positioning himself to take on the series of ethics scandals that have plagued City Hall in recent months. A campaign sign on Mr. Biddle’s podium read: “Because we can do better.”

“A dark cloud hangs over our city and our politics,” he said. “Literally hundreds of District voters have shared with me their disappointment and even disgust with the quality of public debate and public decision-making.”

Mr. Orange’s contribution to ethics reform includes a series of bills that would institute term limits and prohibit outside employment.

Mr. Biddle referred to Mr. Orange, who served as the Ward 5 council member from 1999 to 2007, as a “talented and hardworking person,” yet he threw a few jabs his way, including one about his proposal to increase council members’ pay so they could become full-time lawmakers and drop their outside employment.

Mr. Orange dropped the raise part of his bill shortly after its introduction.

Mr. Biddle was joined at the announcement by his wife, Cara, his mother, Freddie, and his new campaign manager, Vicky Wilcher, who worked for Mr. Orange last April.

Ms. Wilcher said she had been “so impressed with [Mr. Biddle] that I am <t-1>now working with him.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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