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Amid Rumors, Queries, Barry Soldiers On

Changes in Ward 8

Although Crawford says somebody should give Barry a job, he doesn't necessarily think it should be on the council. Crawford endorsed Allen, and others -- including the Greater Washington Board of Trade and most D.C. Council members -- have followed suit. The Ward 8 Democrats didn't endorse a candidate because none got two-thirds of the total votes cast; Allen got 91 votes, Barry got 60, and five other candidates split 97 votes.

Even Barry's pastor, the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, endorsed Allen. That bothered Barry, who said he felt betrayed by his longtime friend.

Barry, vying for the Ward 8 council seat in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, speaks at last month's candidates forum. (Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)

An Aug. 9 profile of Marion Barry incorrectly described his service on the D.C. Council. Barry served as an at-large member, not a Ward 8 representative, before becoming mayor. He was elected to the council from Ward 8 before his return to the mayor's office.

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But he has been around politics long enough to know an endorsement doesn't hold a candle to a punched ballot. He is trying to appeal to voters by promising more summer jobs, better housing options and a renewed sense of hope for the poor.

"We're calling it 'the New Ward 8,' " he said.

But one political problem that some analysts see is that the ward already has changed significantly and that the new Ward 8 doesn't bode well for Barry.

"I think the ward has changed since Barry last served," said Eugene Dewitt Kinlow, president of the Ward 8 Democrats. "A large number of public housing units are now gone, replaced by market-rate housing, and I think that could make a difference."

Barry recently drove through several of the new developments and claimed credit for laying the groundwork for many of them when he was mayor. He said people have told him the residents there "aren't conducive to your kind of candidacy," a way of saying that he has little to offer to middle-income residents, especially whites.

But inside those developments, residents suggested that Barry has something they need: visibility. Oxon Creek resident Kirsten Burgard -- a member of the Ward 8 Democrats -- said she has had conversations about the campaign with about 30 neighbors. She said they usually start by praising other candidates, go on to say they feel more closely aligned with the others' views and conclude by admitting they'll probably vote for Barry.

"Barry, just his presence, having beaten the odds, will draw attention to us," said Jose Muse, 36, who lives in Oxon Creek. "People who can't afford homes lose them to primarily non-African Americans. Everyone looks at Barry and says, 'He's gonna be the one to stop this. He's gonna be the one to fight our battles because without him, we can't even get into the fight.' "

Even those who aren't backing Barry believe he's got a chance. Former campaign manager Jordan, who is so mad that he filed a lawsuit for back pay, predicted a Barry victory. Activist Don Folden described the campaign as "pathetic," then added that a Barry win is a "good possibility." Crawford said Barry might try to use a win to regain the mayor's seat.

"They can think anything they want," Barry said defiantly. "I'm talking Ward 8. That's big enough for me."

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