Choices in Wards 5 and 6

Thursday, August 24, 2006

DEMOCRATS going to the polls on Sept. 12 in Wards 5 and 6 will not find the names of incumbent D.C. Council members Vincent B. Orange Sr. (Ward 5) and Sharon Ambrose (Ward 6) on the ballot. Both veteran lawmakers have decided not to seek another term, thus opening up their seats to spirited competition.

Ward 5 has an especially attractive field of candidates. Three stand out as able potential successors to Mr. Orange: Frank Wilds, a businessman and Ward 5 Democratic Party vice chairman; Bruce Marshall, an attorney and former government administrator; and Harry "Tommy" Thomas Jr. , a community leader and director of a youth mentoring and learning program. Four years ago, when he captured 40 percent of the vote against Mr. Orange, we said that "Mr. Thomas is close to the Ward 5 community and makes a strong impression on those voters he seeks to win over" but that he would have to broaden his reach to be successful. Mr. Thomas has done that in the intervening years by deepening his service to Ward 5 residents, expanding his civic accomplishments, and earning the respect and support of civic and community leaders. He bears the name of his father, the late former council member Harry Thomas, and the strengths and attributes of his mother, former public school principal Romaine B. Thomas. But Harry Thomas Jr., through the services rendered and experience gained in Ward 5 activities, has earned the nomination of his party on his own.

In Ward 6, Tommy Wells , currently an elected school board member and executive director of the Consortium for Child Welfare, is far and away the best candidate in the contest. We were pleased to endorse him for the Board of Education and hope that as a council member Mr. Wells will continue to be the stabilizing and thoughtful presence that he has been on the board. While the school system has its problems, Mr. Wells certainly is not one of them. He has a record of accomplishment as a board member but also solid successes as an advisory neighborhood commissioner and as an advocate for improvements in the city's child welfare system. Former Ward 6 neighborhood services coordinator Leo Pinson and government relations executive Curtis Etherly Jr., while engaging competitors, have neither the depth of public service nor the range of experience with complex public policy issues to match Mr. Wells.

The Republican candidate for the Ward 6 seat, Tony Williams, is running unopposed.

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