On Saturday, May 14 hundreds of voters and DC residents gathered at the Josephine Butler Center in Northwest Washington to hear from most candidates running in the April 1, 2014 DC Primary. The candidates forum organized by the DC Latino Caucus, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists -DC Chapter, and the DC Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus was a collaborative effort that took a few months to organize. Some of the other community partners that joined the effort, included: The DC Muslim Caucus, the Washington Hispanic Newspaper, CapitalWirePR, the LGBT Latino History Project, and the Washington Hispanic Contractors Association.
The candidates forum started early on Saturday morning with the presence of DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Congresswoman Norton is seeking reelection for the DC Delegate seat to the US Congress, a position she’s held since 1991. The forums continued with other offices, including, Chairman of the DC Council, where the incumbent Phil Mendelson faces Ward 4 resident Calvin Gurley. The audience also heard from candidates running for various seats on the DC Council, including candidates for the competitive races in Ward 1, where incumbent Jim Graham is running against Brianne Nadeau, and Ward 6, another competitive race for an open seat on the DC Council.
The audience also heard from At-Large DC Council candidates, where incumbent, DC Democratic Party Chair Anita Bonds, is trying to get reelected to a full 4-year term. Anita Bonds was elected last year to an At-Large seat during a special election, after Phil Mendelson was elected Chairman of the DC Council. The Shadow Senator candidates also attended the candidates forum. In that race, incumbent Shadow Senator Paul Strauss faced off Ward 3 resident Pete Ross.
But the big event was the DC Mayoral forum. This forum was moderated by veteran journalist Ray Suarez, now with Aljazeera, and Maria Rosa Lucchini with Noticias Univision Washington. People in a packed room and a satellite room heard all eight candidates talk about issues important to the Latino, Asian and Pacific islander, and the broader immigrant community. In the Mayoral race, incumbent Vincent Gray debated seven other candidates. Topics covered included affordable housing, jobs, and health insurance for all DC residents.
Both the DC Latino Caucus and the DC Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus held straw polls. Both polls were won by the current Mayor, Vincent Gray. Members of the DC Latino Caucus endorsed Vincent Gray with 85% of the votes, while 66% of the DC Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus members voted for the Mayor. Recent polls show the DC Mayor leading in the Mayoral race.
The forum was streamed live on NBCWashington.com.