- The Washington Times - Monday, January 5, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

2015. A new year, new Congress, new lineup in the presidential races, new governors and mayors.

So far, so good.

Around the Beltway, eyes and ears are on Marion Barry, who is running in the highly contentious Ward 8 D.C. Council race, as I mentioned in my column a month ago.

Not Marion S. Barry, the political phoenix who often represented the thorn in the side of supporters and detractors alike.

But Marion Christopher Barry, 34 and the son of the late Marion S. and Effi.


SEE ALSO: Mourners remember the best in Marion Barry


A lot of D.C. residents had no idea that Christopher and his dad shared a first name, and understandably so because Barry usually referred to his son as Christopher and the media followed suit.

On the April 28 ballot, his name will likely appear as Marion C. Barry. “It’s official I’m running for Ward 8 Council member,” Mr. Barry tweeted Monday. “Ward 8 the legacy continues, I’m energized, let’s go!”

Mr. Barry has had substance abuse problems and run-ins with the law, including driving on a revoked license. He currently is on probation. “I paid a great price for that and I’ve learned from my mistakes,” he told The Associated Press on Monday. “I feel as though that experience has made me more qualified to help people who have gone through rough times in life.”

Of course, he’s no shoo-in — even with the name Barry and even in Ward 8, where his dad returned after fulfilling his sentencing following the 1990 FBI sting.

Mr. Barry is among nearly two dozen candidates who have signed up for the race.

Other well-known Washingtonians who have notified the D.C. Board of Elections of their intentions include four other people I mentioned in my Dec. 4 column: Sheila Bunn, Darrell Gaston, Nate Bennett-Fleming and Trayon White, as well as Jauhar Abraham, Anthony Muhammad and Natalie Williams, who have considerable name recognition in the ward because of their activism.

Eugene Dewitt Kinlow

The name Eugene D. Kinlow also will be on the ballot.

He’s the guy who helped to resurrect the battle for congressional voting rights when he was with D.C. Vote — and still fights a clean fight.

He’s the guy Ward 8 knows and who knows Ward 8.

He’s the guy who gave WPFW-FM listeners the inside track on “D.C. Politics,” where I rode shotgun with him every week.

I referred to him as “Professor” — for two reasons. One, I know his dad, a minister and former member of the D.C. Board of Education representing Ward 8. The other reason is because he is professorial. That is to say of the many years he pushed for voting rights and statehood, and held sway on WPFW he was always instructive in the ways of politics in general and D.C. politics in particular. And while his liberal bent occasionally brushed this conservative the wrong way, he always remained committed to ensuring that listeners were informed. If Professor wants to, he could easily transition to a career in the media.

I’m sure he can make sure the race is not only an honest one but a race that turns on the issues — because Lord knows Ward 8 needs a page turner.

Employment, education and literacy, economic development and homeownership are the top four issues that I perceive in desperate need of innovative ideas in Ward 8.

Sure, Marion S. Barry did what he could, but it was not enough.

Handouts have practically single-handedly created a stagnant culture in much of Ward 8, where generations often piggyback on one another.

This crop of candidates — all but one of which are Democrats — has a chance to grab a baton, even if it is blue.

Here’s hoping one of them does, because Ward 8 has been waiting for a change agent for a very long time.

2015 just might be the year.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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