“He shouldn’t been in there in the first place,” said Terry Crutchfield, 52, on Thursday at a laundromat on Good Hope Road. Her vote for Gray in 2010, she said, was “the sorriest thing I ever did.”
“I’m voting for whoever is running against him,” said John Davis, 54, standing nearby.
Their voices represented just a smattering of sentiment across the city. But as the federal probe deepens into the finances of Gray’s election campaign, there were glimpses of a surprising conversation unfolding among District residents Thursday, one that didn’t break down along the usual racial lines that so often divide the city.
In areas where Gray commanded intense support and beat Fenty by wide margins, people talked about how much they wanted the mayor to resign. In the neighborhoods where Fenty outpolled Gray, the sense of betrayal seemed far less acute. For the most part, people spoke about Gray in more measured tones and expressed a willingness to wait for the investigation’s completion before calling for the embattled mayor to bow out, as three D.C. council members had already done.
“I’ve never been a Gray fan. But I’m not sure he should resign yet,” said Mike Weaver, 50, an information technology consultant who lives on Capitol Hill in Ward 6, where Fenty won 55 percent of the vote. “You don’t think of clean government when you think of him. Gray owes it to the city to explain himself.”
Weaver was eating lunch with friends at an Ethiopian restaurant near the Howard Theatre. His friends nodded, agreeing that Gray deserves due process.
“I’m not sure if his leadership skills have been compromised,” said Andy Fiedler, a technology programming consultant who voted for Fenty.
Fiedler lives in Columbia Heights in Ward 1, where Fenty won 60 percent of the vote. “Was Fenty less corrupt?” he asked.
“Name a major scandal Fenty was involved in,” Weaver retorted, scooping some lentils into his mouth. “I can’t think of one. But D.C. has been much better off. It’s the fourth-hottest city for tech start-ups in the U.S.”
“But is that because of the mayor?” Fiedler asked. “Or despite the mayor?”
For people east of the Anacostia River, the mayor’s fate felt far more personal. He is one of them, after all, a native Washingtonian who’d grown up poor, broken racial barriers as a young man and entered city politics as an advocate for the disabled and the dispossessed. His courtly manner was a welcome alternative to the brash Fenty.
Outside the Anacostia Library, John Bee, 55, and William Smith, 48, talk about the mayor’s problems almost daily. Next to Bee sat a newspaper with the headline “Will Gray Go?” over a photo of the politician scratching his forehead.