- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

After a steady drip, drip of guilty pleas and tantalizing disclosures from prosecutors, D.C. voters on Tuesday weighed on whether an ongoing campaign finance investigation should disqualify embattled Mr. Gray from office.

From the time precincts opened at 7 a.m., candidates crisscrossed the city making stops at polling places to shake hands with residents and to shore up votes.

Looming large at the polls was the scandal, involving $668,000 in unreported campaign funds funneled to Mr. Gray’s 2010 campaign.

Voters faced the prospect of firing the mayor despite relative stability and prosperity during in his four years in office.

For 48-year-old D.C. government employee Ariana Quinones, the choice to support Mr. Gray was easy.

“I think he’s done a great job over the last three years,” the Northwest resident said in between casting her ballot at Coolidge Senior High School and campaigning for him outside the polling place. “I think he’s been a balanced leader in terms of economic development and looking out for vulnerable residents.”

SEE ALSO: Turnout seen as crucial to D.C. mayoral primary

College student Joshua Patterson, 23, of Northwest said he voted for Mr. Gray the last time and supported him again.

“It was Gray all the way,” he said. “I thought he made good progress.”

Others said the ongoing investigation into the mayor, in which federal prosecutors have implicated him in the illegal scheme, prevented them from supporting Mr. Gray, who has maintained his innocence.

Shakeese Peeples, a 33-year-old Amtrak train conductor, said the scandal shook her confidence in Mr. Gray and that she would not be supporting him.
“Just because of all the issues and everything it doesn’t seem like he can be trusted to do what we need him to do in the city,” she said outside of Watkins Elementary School in Southeast. “Some new blood and maybe a new outlook on what’s going on may be what we really need to get things in order.”

Sylvia Kilpatrick of Southeast said that meant voting for Ms. Bowser.

“No offense with Gray and all them, but there’s just too much messy stuff there, and she’s coming in with a clean slate and I appreciate that,” she said. “I think people are looking for something positive, someone new.”

But scandal wasn’t a factor for Northeast D.C. residents Charles Henderson and his wife, Carrie, who both cast ballots for Ms. Bowser at Coolidge.

Rather, it was her solid performance as their Ward 4 council member that won their support.

“Whatever issue it is, she gets behind it. She doesn’t hold back,” said Mr. Henderson, a 67-year-old retiree.

Mrs. Henderson, a 77-year-old retiree, said she was pleased by the ease at which she was able to contact her council member when she had problems to report in the neighborhood.

“Normally, when you call her office, they get right on it,” Mrs. Henderson said.
Some voters opted for challengers other than the presumptive front-runners.

Allison Majewski, who works at a nonprofit, said she voted for D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat and the longest-serving council member in the city’s history.

“His experience is unparalleled compared to the rest of the candidates, and I think he’s the right man for the job,” Ms. Majewski said after voting at Stuart Hobson Middle School in Northeast.

Elections officials reported few hiccups at polls, where turnout was modest into the early afternoon and lines were practically nonexistent.

“We’re trucking along,” D.C. Board of Elections spokeswoman Tamara Robinson said.

Problems reported to elections officials were typically administrative in nature, such as voters not listed at the correct precinct, Ms. Robinson said.

In the instances when voters had problems, they were “very good about alerting us about it by phone or via Twitter,” she said.

• Emily Hoosier contributed to this report.

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