Residents of Ward 6 have trusted D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells to represent their interests on the D.C. Council since his 2006 election.
Early Wednesday morning, it appeared Democratic voters picked his longtime chief of staff — Charles Allen — to replace him. Allen had approximately 58 percent of the vote, with nearly three-quarters of precincts reporting, leading opponent Darrel Thompson, who brought impressive congressional credentials to the race.
The D.C. Board of Elections was still calculating electronic ballots, and neither candidate had declared victory or conceded in the race as night became morning in Washington.
Venturing off the Capitol campus in any direction on Tuesday likely brought Capitol Hill folk face-to-face with volunteers from both campaigns. Ward 6 touches all four quadrants of the city and encompasses the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Royal blue Charles Allen yard signs, affixed with black stickers boasting his Washington Post endorsement, lined local sidewalks alongside navy blue Darrel Thompson yard signs. Both candidates made a compelling cases for the office with a their résumés.
Allen learned the ins and outs of the D.C. Council and local issues while running Wells' office and interacted with Ward 6 constituents on a regular basis. That knowledge helped win him the endorsement of 35 advisory neighborhood commissioners.
As a former deputy to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Thompson boasted plenty of experience navigating the federal legislative process that he hoped to put to work in his hometown. When Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich confirmed he would be introducing D.C. autonomy bills in the Senate, Reid gave Thompson much of the credit.
The candidates shared similar views on many of the issues important to Ward 6 voters. On everything from RFK stadium development to the 11th Street Bridge project, the two Democrats agreed. They proposed likeminded approaches to marijuana policies, affordable housing and job creation.
Allen differed from Thompson on one key issue: campaign finance.
Allen rejected corporate contributions to his campaign, claiming D.C. is in a "pay-to-play” culture and one of the best ways to restore ethics and accountability to the city is by rejecting contributions from contractors or corporations.
The good government theme was similar to the tone of Wells' mayoral campaign, but Allen rejected suggestions he would be “Tommy Wells-lite" in office.
As the father of a 19-month-old daughter, and former policy director for the D.C. Primary Care Association, Allen has promised he will bring his own lens to the seat. He's pegged affordable child care and eduction as top priorities.
"I think he will take it to the next level," Wells told CQ Roll Call late Tuesday night. "I brought back the elementary schools, now it's his job to bring back the middle schools"