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D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells, a Democrat who represents Capitol Hill and parts of its surrounding areas, will make it official Saturday: He’s running for mayor of the capital city.
“I’m running because I know we can clean up the corruption in city government and bring the same success we’ve achieved in Ward 6 to the rest of the city,” Wells said in a Monday release.
Wells will kick off his campaign at noon at the Starburst Plaza at the crossroads of H Street, Benning Road, Bladensburg Road and Maryland and Florida avenues Northeast. The site has resonance for a lawmaker who has made livability and planning issues a cornerstone of his career. Starburst Plaza has long been envisioned by neighborhood activists and planners as key to making H Street Northeast and the surrounding area more sustainable. If all goes according to plan, it will be a hub for future streetcar development and a key to expanding other non-automobile transit, such as bike-sharing programs.
Wells will join Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser as Democrats looking to challenge Mayor Vincent Gray. Gray, who in 2010 knocked out incumbent Adrian Fenty, has been beset by scandal virtually since the beginning of his term, with associates from his campaign team being linked to straw donors and other campaign finance irregularities.
Wells and Bowser are likely to get company in the primary, as other D.C. politicians gauge their chances, including Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, another Democrat.
Wells has made environmental and livability issues, including making the city more walkable and bikable, a mainstay of his time on the Council. His reference to “the corruption in city government” could be an appeal to citizens weary of not only Gray’s missteps, but the resignations last year of Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. for embezzlement and filing false tax returns and Kwame Brown for bank fraud. More recently councilmembers Vincent Orange and Jim Graham have been dinged for ethical snafus. It’s a point Wells is likely to keep hammering, judging by Monday’s release.
“I’ve spent three months meeting with residents in every Ward of the city, and I hear the same message over and over. D.C. residents want an honest, ethical government that can help build strong neighborhoods,” Wells said.