D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D) said on Twitter Monday night he was “elated” that the D.C. Democratic State Committee had selected his longtime ally, Anita Bonds, to be an interim council member.
But Bonds, who was sworn in Tuesday morning to temporarily fill Chairman Phil Mendelson’s (D) former at-large seat, is already taking steps to put some distance between her views and those of the former mayor.
Speaking to reporters after she was selected, Bonds said she could not support Barry’s controversial bill to provide new employment protections to ex-offenders in its current form.
“It needs work,” Bonds said of Barry’s bill that would give ex-offenders some of the same employment protections afforded other minority groups. “I am a little concerned when we create a another class of individuals. That bothers me, because you only have so much resources, and we are not a bottomless pit.”
Bonds continued, “It’s really is how you implement that so it’s not an onus on the business community.”
Though the council rejected Barry’s last week by a vote of 8 to 5, the Ward 8 council member remains hopeful he can still bring it back for another vote. In recent days, Barry has been on a media tour seeking to build public support for his proposal.
To push the bill through the council, Barry would likely need the support of Bonds, who will be on the council at least until a special election is held in April to fill the at-large seat permanently.
In an interview Tuesday, Barry declined to comment on Bonds’s initial opposition to his proposal..
But Bonds’s statement raises questions about how she plans to interact on the council with Barry.
Bonds has an association with Barry that stretches back to his first run for school board in the 1970s. In the days leading up to Monday’s state committee vote, Barry pushed for her appointment.
Bonds, who lives in lower Bloomingdale in Ward 5, may also have to lean heavily on Barry’s extensive experience in District politics as she gears up to compete in the special election to keep her seat.
Yet, Bonds stressed to reporters she won’t be a reliable vote for Barry’s priorities on the council.
“I’m highly different from Marion Barry,” Bonds said.
Bonds said she is “very, progressive but conservative on how we spend our money,” which could put her odds at times with Barry, a staunch economic liberal.
“I don’t want us to waste money,” Bonds said. “We don’t have much and we ought to be spending it where it is needed.”
With the official backing of the Democratic State Committee, Bonds will be trying to keep a traditionally Democratic council seat from falling into the hands of the GOP. Ward 1 School Board member Patrick Mara, a Republican, is widely expected to enter the special election race.
But it’s unclear how aggressively Bonds plans to campaign. She said Monday night she’s seeking a strategy that allows put her message before voters without relying on extensive door-to-door campaigning.
Underscoring her challenge, Bonds still must convince her Democratic colleagues on the council to support her in April.
On Tuesday, Council members Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) all declined to say whether they would support Bonds in the special election.
Barry, however, predicted Monday an easy victory for Bonds come April.