In the final days of the council election battle in Ward 6, incumbent council member Nadine Winter and her most active challenger, Patricia Rice Press, are both mounting well-financed and highly organized campaigns.
On the go 13 to 15 hours a day, businesswoman Press will be spending her time at socialite cocktail hours, shopping centers, Metro stops and churches; at a motorcade and rally and at a unity march to Lincoln Park; in consultation with a Chicago elections and ethics expert; working with her labor supporters and about 200 active volunteers; taping radio and television commercials and helping to put together newspaper advertisements.
Press will be doing that and more, trying to garner the 7,000 votes that her campaign coordinator, Donovan Gay, says she will need to unseat Winter.
Two other Democratic candidates on the Ward 6 ballot will be George Gurley and David L. Hall.
Incumbent Winter, the founder of Hospitality House, a private social action self-help agency, is emphasizing her record in her bid for re-election. She said she has been concentrating on her services to constituents. In 1974, when she won with 47 percent of the vote in a primary race with eight opponents. Winter said many refused to support her because they viewed her as a black militant. This time, she believes, her support will be broad-based.
Winter also has been making the rounds of subway stops and business areas and has attended fundraisers. During the next two weeks, she plans to seek additional contributions from the business community and will work with the ministers and the teachers and firemen's unions which support her.
Her campaign involves block-by-block organization and a phone bank, and there are plans to have 160 volunteers working at the polls on election day - 10 in each precinct, said Winter's campaign coordinator and daughter-in-law, Daria Winter.
Candidate George Gurley, who is retired from the Air Force, estimated that he is spending from eight to 10 hours a day talking to potential voters or putting up posters.
"I've talked to well over 1,000 people at places like Safeway stores," Gurley said. "I give people the truth and facts about the exodus of people out of the city." Gurley attacks the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade and quotes its president, R. Robert Linowes, as saying that in 10 years the poor will be pushed into the suburbs.The same theme has been sounded by City Council member Douglas Moore (D-At Large), who is running for council chairman.
Gurley said he has between 20 and 30 part-time volunteers aiding him in his quest for the City Council. He plans to have block captains working during the primary, and will be on the streets with a loudspeaker system on election day, he said.
Candidate David Hall said that he plans to campaign from early morning until late at night. Hall is trying to make up for lost time. Although he announced his candidacy early this year, since last March he has been serving time in jail after pleading guilty to writing bad checks. Hall withdrew his guilty plea on Aug. 16, however, and has been released from jail, pending a new trial scheduled for Nov. 8, according to D. C. Superior Court records.
Hall said he will focus now on a walking campaign through the ward, passing out literature. He still is awaiting his bumper stickers and isn't certain whether he will have posters. "I'll be out looking for a dollar here, five dollars there, nickels and dimes - whatever the street people want to give," Hall said.
ALl four candidates have made claims of victory. Gurley said that he thinks Winter and Press will neutralize each other, giving him the victory.
Press's campaign coordinator. Donovan Gay on the other hand, said he thinks most Ward 6 voters are in the mood for a change, and that his candidate will benefit from that. He said he has "every indication that Patricia is in the lead by several percentage points."
Despite the strength of Press challenge, Winter said she is confident of victory.
"I have been very active in this community.What has she (Press) done?" Winter asked in an interview at her campaign headquarters. "I'm not running on promises. I'm running on my record. I don't have to walk the blocks to find out what people want. I know what the people want."
Daria Winter said they had originally planned to have a $20,000 budget for the primary, but printing costs - 20,000 leaflets cost between $1,200 and $1,300, she said - may boost it higher. At this point, she said they aren't certain if they will have radio or television commercials. Gay said Press also plans to spend about $20,000 on her primary campaign.
Housing economic development, and employment appear to be the major issues on the minds of Ward 6 voters.
Last Thursday, at a forum held on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, the questions asked of nearly all the candidates by an audience of about 40 persons reflected the same general theme: What are you going to do to make certain lower income people can continue to afford to live in the District of Columbia?
The Ward 6 campaign has been marked by frequent attacks and charges among candidates. Winter's opponents have accused her of lacking the necessary leadership qualities. Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3) sent a letter to a reporter expressing "strong diagreement" with Press's published remarks that Press felt Winter was the least respected council member.
"Mrs. Winter is a highly respected members of the D.C. Council," Shackleton wrote. ". . . She is an extremely dedicated and hard working individual whose commitment to her constituents and to the betterment of the community at large is widely recognized."
And Press has frequently been accused by her opponents of being a real estate speculator. Press owns several hundred thousand dollars of real estate in the city, according to 1976 reports on file, and is involved in the restoration of homes.
Gay, the former chief researcher for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, who is serving as Press's campaign consultant, said he thinks the charges made against Press are "asinine" and are an attempt to appeal to people's emotions without dealing with the issues. Gay said he has advised Press "not to dignify those remarks" by responding to them at forums.
Charges of being a speculator won't hurt her, he said. Press, Gay said, "is providing homes without displacement. She's a smart businesswoman. She's helping people buy a piece of the block."
Press has received the endorsement of the Greater Washington Central Labor Council.
The labor organization began making telephone calls last week in Ward 6 to an estimated 2,000 registered voters who are union members. Union volunteers follow those calls with visits to the homes of undecided voters to urge them to vote for Press, said Minor W. Christian, coordinator of the labor campaign. Christian said that additional calls would be made to voters by members of Council 20, of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employes.
Anton Wood, the only D.C. Statehood Party candidate for the Ward 6 seat, is running a low-key campaign. Last weekend, Wood sent out a mailing to the estimated 120 party members who live in the ward, and said he plans to send another before the election. He said he also will contact party members by telephone, urging them to go to the polls to vote for him. At this point, he said, no write-in candidate has surfaced to oppose him.