D.C. City Councilman Douglas E. Moore, who three years ago shocked many city political observers by discarding his African robes, putting on business suits and getting more votes than any other City Council candidate, announced yesterday that he is running for chairman of the Council in November, 1978.
The 49-year-old Methodist minister and former chairman of the Black United Front became the first person formally to declare his candidacy for one of the city's top two elected positions.
Moore, who has been one of the Council's most controversial members since first being elected in 1974, promised to "restore integrity to the chairman's office" if elected.
"This is the No. 2 responsible position in the city. It is a key leadership position," Moore said. He then critized Council Chairman Sterling Tucker.
"His leadership has not been one to protest the people of the city," Moore said. "The Board of Trade has obsolute control over the Council through the (present) Council chairman."
Moore's assertion of his independence from the city's business community and his attack on archfoe Tucker were not new. But at least one of the programs he said he would propose was a sharp departure from his past role as the moral guardian of the city's legislature body.
As a way to increase city revenues, Moore urged a plan to eliminate federal taxes on "whiskey, jewelry and cigarettes" in downtown Washington. If that occured, he said, those items could be purchased more cheaply in the city than in any place in the metropolitan area and city revenues from taxes on the high volume of sales would increase.
"I'll face the preachers on it later," said Moore, who in the past has had strong political support among the city's black clergymen. "We'll just have to part company if that becomes an issue."
Moore said he also might consider accompanying legislation to forbid District residents from purchasing the items at cheaper prices. "If you're a D.C. resident, you couldn't buy it. If you're a Virginia or Maryland resident, I could care less."
Moore said that the city could raise an additional $10 million annually in revenues if it were to convince the White House to let the District operate National Airport in Arlington. "That airport belongs to us," Moore said.
Moore's three years in public office have shown a continual decline in popularity among his colleagues on the Council and the city's dominant Democractic Party, of which he is a member. It has been peppered with controversy stemming from his behavior outside the Council chambers - at one point he was convicted of assault for biting a tow truck driver in the parking lot outside city hall.
Claiming that he was lax in his job, the Council leadership early this year removed Moore as chairman of the powerful budget committee and from the largely honorary post of chairman pro tempore. He had held both positions since 1975, Moore is now the only member of the 13-member. Democratic controlled Council who heads no committee.
He has blamed his apparent loss of favor with his colleagues on his independence from the Board of Trade and constantly asserted that his base is nevertheless becoming stronger in the community.
In July, he backed former D.C. School Supt. Barbara A. Sizemore, who narrowly missed an upset of Hilda Mason. Mason had the support of most of the city's major Democratic politicians. Moore proclaimed the good showing a victory for his "rag-tag radical" political organization, saying he had "whipped the behinds. " of the established Democratic leadership.
Yesterday, he said he would gladly welcome Sizemore, whose name is bandied about as a possible at-large Council candidate next year, as a running mate. He would not say if he would run on the same slate with Mayor Walter E. Washington, a frequent political ally of Moore in the past.
Moore's announcement comes when there is uncertainty about who will run for mayor next year.Tucker and Council member Marion Barry have for months been jockeying for position and trying to line up supporter's in the city's business community and Democratic leadership.
Along with Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.) the three have met several times that could avoid the bitter internal fight within the Domocratic Party that is expected if both Barry and Tucker run for mayor.
Fauntry, who is the closest to being a kingmaker in the city's Democratic Party, has avoided any firm commitment to either man, and many leading Democrats are hoping Barry will run for council chairman.
But Barry said yesterday that his interest is in the mayor's seat and all of his present maneuvering is oriented in that direction.