When it comes to D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the court of public opinion, African American Washington is a house divided. A Washington Post poll released this week found that 48 percent of African Americans think Gray should step down and that 44 percent think he should stay. Today, we give Maceo Thomas, a veteran civic activist from east of the Anacostia River, and the Rev. Earl D. Trent Jr., longtime pastor of a historic church near the U Street Corridor, a chance to weigh in and illustrate the tension in African American neighborhoods over the mayor. They represent two competing story lines in today’s Washington.
Maceo Thomas is a longtime community organizer from Ward 7 who didn’t vote for Gray in 2010 but was willing to give him a chance. Now, with charges swirling, he has had enough. “In my opinion, his time to share with the public has already passed,” he says. Here are the top three reasons he thinks Gray should step down
1. $653,000 is real money.
When Washingtonians hear that the mayor’s campaign allegedly received $653,000 in illegal campaign contributions, it looks as if he might have been bought. If there are no consequences for this alleged corruption, faith in government is gone.
2. Pattern of ethical lapses.
Some may argue that Gray was out of the loop, but those from the Gray camp who are pleading guilty are his close advisers. The mayor has already admitted to poor hiring practices during the early days of his administration, and the latest charges indicate a disturbing pattern.
3. We should expect transparency.
The mayor should have given the residents a full accounting months ago. The cloak of suspicion is hanging low over the city. So, all Gray has left to do is resign. Let’s start over.
Next page: An opposing view
The Rev. Earl D. Trent Jr. is the longtime pastor of
Florida Avenue Baptist Church and has supported Gray for years. “The recent disclosure about the campaign of Mayor Gray is troubling to anyone concerned about integrity of this city and government officials,” he writes. “The summary judgment suggested by polls of the general public is also troubling to anyone concerned about fair and equitable treatment of all citizens.” Here are his three reasons Gray should stay.
1. Let’s allow due process to run its course.
We don’t know all the facts. We should allow
the process to play out, and we should withhold calls for his resignation until the process
has been completed.
2. We need stability at the Wilson Building
We’ve had two members leave the D.C. Council recently. This is a time for stability at city hall. We don’t need anything more to disrupt the city. This is a time for deliberation, not calls for resignation.
3. The mayor has unfinished work to do that he should be allowed to complete.
Mayor Gray has a good vision for the city. Until we
know more, we should allow him to try to help the
people. He represents the common person in
Washington, and attacks on him are seen by many as attacks on the common person in this city