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  •   Chavous Campaign Displays Support

        D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous interacts with supporters, community leaders and political activists at his campaign rally at the East River Park Shopping Center.
    D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous interacts with supporters, community leaders and political activists at his campaign rally at the East River Park Shopping Center in Northeast Washington.
    (By Tom Allen/The Washington Post)
    By Hamil R. Harris
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, May 3, 1998; Page B06

    D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7), appearing at a Northeast Washington shopping center with a marching band, ROTC units and a cadre of political supporters, attempted yesterday to shift his campaign for mayor into high gear.

    "Washington, D.C., needs someone to stand tall, speak for the people and be counted. Now is the time for new leadership," Chavous told more than 200 community leaders and political activists gathered in the parking lot at the East River Park Shopping Center.

    Although Chavous, 41, billed the event as the "kick off" of his mayoral campaign, it was the two-term council member's third announcement of his candidacy since January. Political activists said the rally was really a show of force to build support among Democrats for the September primary.

    Chavous, a lawyer, is running against council colleagues Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Harold Brazil (D-At Large). And there is the possibility that Mayor Marion Barry, who has yet to indicate his plans, will jump into the race as well.

    Although Chavous showcased such supporters as D.C. Council member Sandy Allen (D-Ward 8), businessman John Hechinger and Carol Clarke, widow of former D.C. Council chairman David A. Clarke, there were many prominent political faces in the crowd who said they have not yet made up their minds about who they will back.

    Even though Samuel Boss's daughter Samantha sang the National Anthem for the campaign rally, for example, Boss, president of the Far Northeast/Southeast Council, said he still is undecided.

    "Everybody is waiting to see what the mayor is going to do," Boss said. "I am not a Marion Barry supporter, but if he runs, he can win the Democratic primary."

    Barry, who was at the third annual Mayor's Walk and 5K Run in Anacostia Park to benefit the National Council of Negro Women, would not comment yesterday about Chavous's rally or his own plans. "My decision to run is not contingent on who is in the race," Barry said.

    But Chavous is not waiting for Barry. At the rally, Chavous operatives shuffled people with signs into place as the candidate, riding in a trolley, arrived at the shopping center after the H.D. Woodson Senior High School marching band. Isaac Fulwood Jr., the former D.C. police chief who is now campaign chairman for Chavous, watched over the rally preparations with the intensity of someone preparing for a police raid.

    "You have to have people with a sense of how to get things done," Fulwood said. "This campaign is about touching people. It doesn't matter what your message is; we are not doing anything if we are not touching people."

    In his speech, Chavous stressed the need to preserve democracy in the District, and improve schools and public safety through "hard work, integrity and leadership."

    Several community leaders from across the city said Chavous's family image and his not so "in your face" style could unite residents and improve the District's relationship with Congress.

    Hechinger, founder of a hardware empire in the Washington area, said Chavous has the "ability to be good liaison" on Capitol Hill. "The fact is [Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.)] has disrespect for Marion to the point of [taking] it out on the rest of the population."

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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