D.C. mayoral hopeful Walter E. Fauntroy continued his attack yesterday on developer contributions to political rival John Ray, saying Ray was being backed by outsiders whose interests were "antithetical" to the promotion of affordable housing in the District.
"John Ray has been financed for a decade by developers and real estate interests who are not willing to be partners with the community to provide housing for low- and moderate-income people," Fauntroy said. "He's backed by people whose interests are antithetical to what we want to do."
D.C. Council member Ray (At Large), who is running against Fauntroy and three others in the Democratic Party's Sept. 11 mayoral primary, declined to respond directly to his opponent's comments.
"I'm busy campaigning, getting my message to the voters about how I'm going to address education, crime, drugs and housing," Ray said. "But when I get a chance, I'm still praying for Mr. Fauntroy."
In an unrelated development in city politics, several Democratic activists said Mayor Marion Barry has expressed renewed interest in the possibility of seeking an at-large seat this fall on the D.C. Council, depending on the verdict in his federal trial on 14 drug-related charges.
The activists said such a seat would enable Barry to accrue the time he needs for full pension benefits and give him a continued voice in local government. Barry raised the option of running for a council seat several months ago, after his return to the District from addiction treatment in Florida and South Carolina.
Fauntroy pressed his attack against Ray at his fourth news conference in a week on the issue of developer contributions, a focal point of Fauntroy's campaign but one that so far has generated limited attention.
Fauntroy held his news conference yesterday near a huge tract of open land off North Capitol Street -- a site he said was ripe for development as housing -- but only a few supporters and one reporter showed up for the event.
Fauntroy's remarks contained none of the racially charged rhetoric he used previously, when he denounced Ray as the "great white hope" of developers who, he contended, wanted to make Ray their "hand-picked overseer" in converting the District to a "plantation."
In the race for mayor, the local parent council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was scheduled to endorse Fauntroy at a news conference today, according to union spokeswoman Amy Mayers.
The endorsement is widely viewed in local political circles as an important one in city elections; several smaller AFSCME locals have endorsed some of the other candidates in the Democratic mayoral primary.
In addition to Fauntroy, the District's delegate to Congress, and Ray, the primary election candidates include Council Chairman David A. Clarke, council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (Ward 4) and lawyer Sharon Pratt Dixon.
Fauntroy's appearance followed passage in the House yesterday of community development legislation that includes $10 million for nonprofit neighborhood groups in the District to use for acquiring and rehabilitating housing.
The delegate said his insertion of that language in the housing bill was a sign of his ability to work with colleagues in Congress.
Although Fauntroy too has received developer contributions, his press secretary said yesterday the campaign intends to keep hammering away at the several large financial donations Ray has received.
"John Ray is hiding behind the money," said Robert L. Johnson, Fauntroy's campaign manager. "His controllers are saying, 'John, don't open your mouth.' But we're going to make him come out."