The Rev. Douglas E. Moore, a former D.C. City Council member and political maverick who a decade ago criticized other council members for their ties to the business community, emphasized his experience as a "conservative businessman" yesterday in launching a campaign to unseat Council Chairman David Clarke.
"Our city or any other city in America will not provide its citizens with their needs . . . without a strong business community," Moore said at a press conference at his Northeast Washington home. ". . . Our present chairman has failed to realize this important ingredient. I will work with the business community, not against it, and will demand that it work for our city and our people, not against them."
When he ran for chairman once before, in 1978, Moore asserted his independence from business interests, describing himself as "the people's candidate." He charged that the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade had "absolute control" over the council's then-chairman Sterling Tucker, who was running for mayor that year.
Yesterday, Moore used the flip side of that allegation, saying that Clarke, who is seeking reelection this year, has not worked with the business community to establish a "real partnership" to seek to reduce unemployment.
For the eight years since leaving the City Council, Moore said he has run his own business, Moore Energy Resources, which markets coal, oil and gas. This and other experience give him a perspective Clarke does not have, Moore claimed.
"Has he Clarke ever run his own business? Does he speak French? Does he speak Swahili?" Moore asked.
A Methodist minister and former civil rights activist, Moore was elected in 1974 to a four-year term on the first City Council under home rule. After his unsuccessful bid for chairman in 1978, he lost a 1979 election to council member John Ray (D-At Large). In 1982 he ran unsuccessfully against council member William Spaulding (D-Ward 5).
Moore said he has raised no money for his campaign so far.
He was a controversial figure on the council and gained notoriety for his behavior outside the council chambers. In 1981 he spent six months in jail on an assault charge for biting a tow-truck driver during a 1975 fight behind the District Building.
"I recognize that I have made mistakes in the past . . . . I have learned and grown through the pain of error," Moore said yesterday, without alluding to specific events.
He accused Clarke of failing to be a strong leader. Moore said that as chairman he would deal with the difficulties of health professionals in getting medical malpractice coverage; reduce inheritance and estate taxes to keep District residents from moving to the suburbs, and push for residential drug treatment facilities.
Clarke could not be reached for comment yesterday. However, he had said earlier that he "would welcome" having Moore enter the race for chairman, saying it would "give me an opportunity to show how far the City Council has come since [Moore] was on it.