Peace has broken out in often fractious Ward 7, east of the Anacostia River.
Neighborhood and community activists, with a history of acrimonious political struggles among themselves, appear to be coalescing behind the mayoral candidacy of Democrat John Ray.
The ward's two top political leaders -- D.C. Council member H.R. Crawford and school board President Nate Bush -- have joined together to endorse Ray, an at-large council member. Only two years ago, Crawford and Bush were engaged in a bitter primary fight over Crawford's council seat.
Democratic State Committee member Lorraine Whitlock, perhaps the ward's best known grass-roots activist, has put her numerous contacts at the disposal of the Ray organization, while housing activist Kimi Gray, of the Kenilworth-Parkside project, also is backing Ray.
"Ray has the strongest foothold in the ward," said lawyer Kevin Chavous, one of a few political activists who has remained neutral in the race.
"He's got people out here who have been working with different candidates in the past coming together," said Herbert A. Boyd Jr., an advisory neighborhood commissioner in the Penn Branch section of the ward. "John has an idea of bringing economic development to parts of Ward 7 that really need it."
East of the Anacostia River in Southeast and Northeast Washington, Ward 7 embodies different parts of Washington's economic spectrum.
There are thousands of public housing units, as well as more middle- and upper-middle-class enclaves of professionals, retired government workers and others. The ward is home to Mayor Marion Barry, whose wife, Effi, has endorsed Charlene Drew Jarvis for mayor.
Drugs, crime and the delivery of city services are the big issues in the ward, according to community activists. "We are very much concerned about the condition of the city: the feeling that everything has gone downtown, and the neighborhoods have gone lacking," Whitlock said.
One touchstone for community discontent has been the effort of the Potomac Electric Power Co. to place new generators near Benning Road, which has been resisted for several years by many Ward 7 residents. Some say the issue has hurt mayoral candidate Sharon Pratt Dixon, a former Pepco vice president.
Of the other candidates in Tuesday's primary, Democrat David A. Clarke appears best-positioned to win votes, according to some political activists. The council chairman is well liked among some of the ward's senior citizens, and has been a frequent visitor to ward functions over the years.
Dolly Hardy, a prominent senior citizen organizer who lives next to Fort Dupont Park, supports Ray, but says Clarke would be her second choice.
"Dave has a lot of support among what I like to call the silent majority," said Ethel B. Onley, a past president of the Central Northeast Civic Association and Clarke's Ward 7 coordinator. "He's really paid his dues."
The D.C. delegate's race is more unsettled. Crawford has endorsed both Eleanor Holmes Norton and Betty Ann Kane, but is widely believed to favor his longtime council colleague Kane. Kane (D-At Large) also has picked up the backing of several prominent Ward 7 activists, including Loretta Watson, Lloyd Smith and James Jefferson, the chairman of Ward 7 Democrats.
One political scenario widely discussed is that if Ray becomes mayor, he may support Bush as his successor as an at-large council member. That would help Crawford by removing a formidable opponent standing in the way of his 1992 reelection. Meanwhile, Barry, who will step down as mayor, is favored to win an at-large council seat this fall.
Population (1988): 78,300
Blacks: 95 percent
Whites: 5 percent
Hispanics: 3 percent
Median Income (1986): $18,200
Registered Voters: 34,864