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Newcomers Could Be Kingmakers in Ward 8 Council Race

Allen quickly remarked: "He ain't running for mayor, baby."

With Barry in the race, the other challengers complain that they are being overshadowed by the former mayor. They have a unified campaign cry: It's time for change.

Council member Sandy Allen gives Eloise Jackson a hug at a senior center in Ward 8. Allen faces six challengers in Tuesday's Democratic primary. (Marvin Joseph -- The Washington Post)

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The other Democratic candidates include William O. Lockridge, a member of the D.C. Board of Education; Jacque D. Patterson, an advisory neighborhood commissioner; R. Joyce Scott, an apartment building resident manager; and Sandra Seegars (who appears on the ballot as "S.S."), an advisory neighborhood commissioner who also serves on the D.C. Taxicab Commission.

Another challenger in the Democratic primary, Frank Sewell, has hung campaign posters, but he has not been highly visible or responsive to requests for information about his candidacy.

Cardell Shelton is running unopposed in the ward's Republican primary.

New Ward 8 voters say they are weighing their choices based on Allen's performance in office and her challengers' promises.

Allen tells constituents that she is a high school dropout and a former welfare mother who won a council seat and rose to prominence as chairman of the D.C. Council's influential Committee on Human Services. She notes that her fellow council members have endorsed her.

Her record speaks for itself, Allen says. When campaigning, she tells voters that she has increased the number of beds in programs for juveniles with substance abuse problems and that she initiated legislation to assist ex-offenders with employment and counseling after they return to the community.

Still, among the city's eight wards, Ward 8's problems stand out. It has the highest unemployment rate. While many areas of the city are experiencing an economic boom, Ward 8 residents are frustrated that they do not have a single supermarket or large sit-down restaurant. Some residents criticize Allen for not working harder to keep D.C. General Hospital open.

Allen responds to critics by saying that she is aware that there is more work to be done.

"You have to dig a hole to build a house," she said at one forum. "We have now built the foundation. I want to stay as your council member because I want to complete the structure that I've put in place."

Allen was once Barry's campaign manager and worked diligently to get him elected. But now he is working hard to unseat her. Barry argues that the ward needs a fighter, someone who will speak up loudly and bring attention to the ward's needs.

"Our alleys are the dirtiest in the city," Barry told Ward 8 residents at a forum. "Our schools are failing people. For 16 years, I provided a summer job to everyone who needed one. My first month on the council, I will introduce a bill to give all youth summer jobs."

Barry's campaign has encountered obstacles.

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