Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, the Democratic nominee for mayor in the Nov. 2 election, continued his mass meet-and-greets with a stop in Ward 1's Carlos Rosario International Charter School.
Hundreds of residents turned out, causing organizers to initially fret about fire hazards as they scurried to move people out of the aisles of an auditorium that seats 450. Hundreds of other people were placed in chairs on the stage and in a spillover room.
Gray, considered the presumptive mayor in the overwhelmingly Democratic city, stuck to his script, beginning with his "One City" theme. He hit all his familiar notes -- he "heartily" supports education reform, backs charter schools, wants special-education students educated within the city's borders, pushes for the education of toddlers and infants, wants District jobs to go to residents and is willing to go to jail for statehood (with residents behind him).
Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) helped remind the audience that the town halls are as much about campaigning as getting to know Gray. "Mr. Gray, there are no write-ins in this room. Not one," he said, referring to the WriteFentyIn campaign that still hopes to elect the current mayor despite his support of Gray.
The council chairman fielded questions about everything from bullying to streetcars to homelessness. Specific to Ward 1, parents and students conitnued to lament the closing of Bruce Monroe Elementary School, which Gray said he would look into with Graham. He added that he did not believe the area could support both Bruce Monroe and Park View Elementary school where they've been moved.
When someone asked what would happen to the Summer Youth Employment Program, Gray explained to laughter and applause that students need a "real job" -- a veiled reference to criticism of the Fenty administration for giving some youths little to do for their pay and few learning experiences. Gray said the city does not have the money to continue an eight- or 10-week program. He said he will create a "good, solid six-week program."
-- Nikita Stewart