Though the Democratic primary for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council is more than a year away, former D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Clark Ray is already sounding like a candidate in the political wake of an effort launched by a broad coalition of District residents who are encouraging him to challenge three-term incumbent Phil Mendelson (D-At Large).
"I am honored as a Democrat to have so much encouragement from people across the city," Ray, 45, who plans to give serious consideration to a bid for the D.C. Council seat. "I am going to sit down, talk with my partner, talk with my family and then I will meet with residents from across the city and then I will share my vision for the city that I call home and love and take it from their."
Mendelson said the potential challenge "is all part of the electoral process."
"Every four years one has to apply and reapply for the job. It is all part of the Democratic process, making the case to the voters," he said. "I think that the residents still see me as haven kept my community roots and folks see me as thoughtful legislator and as a supporter of good government."
Ray's name has been tossed into the political ring by a diverse group of residents whose name are listed on a draft committee letter that states that they endorse Ray's candidacy for three reasons: "Vision, Action and Results."
"The time has come to elect a Councilmember with a new VISION for the District of Columbia, one who understands that ACTION is needed to move forward new ideas, and the fortitude and experience to get RESULTS for the people of the District," reads the email that is being distributed by a committee that includes names that includes names ranging from political activist Peter Rosenstein to former D.C. First lady Cora Masters Barry.
"I believe that we need to thank Phil Mendelson for all he is done, but there are no life-time appointments to the council. It is time for new blood to energized the D. C. Council," Rosenstein said.
Though Ray is openly gay and the legalization of same-sex nuptials has become a hot-button issue, Rosenstein said, "This is not a one-issue campaign."
"Clark is a candidate who will be concerned about all issue of the city, education, crime fighting. He is a reserved police officer. This is about as broad a spectrum as you can have," he said.
While the D.C. Council has drawn national attention since it passed legislation recognizing same sex marriages from other states, "being gay is only part of who I am," Ray said. "My partner and I face the same obstacles that other people face that other people face, we all want safe streets and our children educated."
In the draft letter, it states, "Clark Ray is as comfortable East of the river as he is West of the river and knows his way around this city's streets and our government better than anyone else who has ever run for the Council...Join us to draft Clark Ray to run for Council-at-Large. For those of us telling Clark Ray to run this is a labor of love. We will work for and elect a person who will not be just a good Councilmember but a great Councilmember..."
Hamil R. Harris