Darrel Thompson is an energetic man. When we met for a chat at Ebenezers Coffeehouse along with Aimee, his campaign manager, he greeted me with a vigorous handshake and launched into a humorous and emphatic invective against the terrible traffic flow on C Street NE. Thompson, former aide to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and current candidate for Ward 6 council seat, definitely has energy to spare. Apart from being a fitness enthusiast who has run triathlons and played baseball through school, he also coaches Little League.
He hopes to translate that energy, which served him to keep up with 14- to 16-hour days on Capitol Hill into serving his direct community in Ward 6. When I ask him why he’s shifted his attention from the national forum to the District, he acts playfully hurt. “I don’t consider myself new to Capitol Hill,” he asserts and remarks that he’s been a resident on the Hill for almost twenty years. He owns a home on C Street NE which he shares with his wife, Dr. Britt Weinstock, and their dog, Taco. “I used to live in the Car Barn when it was still apartments,” he recalls. Although Baltimore is generally listed as his hometown, Thompson remembers growing up in DC.
What plans does Thompson have for his ward? Although he considers education an important part of his plan, he wants to employ his energy working to make more aspects of the ward even better. He uses the analogy of walking and chewing gum to illustrate how best to serve his future constituents, and asserts that “all [residents’ needs] have to be priorities.” One of the priorities Thompson likes to talk about most is how to increase and improve the green spaces around the ward. He envisions parks where there is free wi-fi, so residents can take work with them into the ward’s open spaces. He would also like to see the post-Apocalyptic parking lot landscape around RFK stadium turned into playing fields where residents could enjoy recreational sports with plenty of room. “[More park space] is an idea whose time has come, and I would like to see it happen… it’s time to stop talking and start doing.” His involvement in sports made him realize that this is a need around our ward.
Thompson also speaks animatedly of retail growth opportunities, but cautions that different people in the ward have different needs. He would like to see more tax incentives for business, and opposes events that would affect both residents and retail, such as the CSX Virginia Avenue plan, which he strongly and vocally opposes. Thompson wants to make sure that all outstanding issues are serviced around the Ward: from business incentives to providing job opportunities to a vertically-integrated school system where children thrive, he wants to tackle it all.
Thompson’s jovial tone fades when I ask about his thoughts on opponent Charles Allen’s campaign. He is careful with his words, but direct: “I think the people of Ward Six should get to determine who their representatives are [and] not an insider group… It shouldn’t be that a handful of people get to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to select and anoint someone to be our next councilmember.’ Let the voters have this conversation.” He also feels that despite all the ethical talk, “there are elements of my opponent’s campaign that are kind of dubious.” He goes on to elaborate that when a candidate says he does not accept business contributions, yet accepts business checks, there is hypocrisy involved. (Ed. note: Charles Allen contacted THIH asserting that he does not accept business contributions. THIH verified this fact through the DC Office of Campaign Finance. You can see the results by clicking on this link.)
Thompson doesn’t dwell on negativity, however. He has big plans for the ward, and has energy to spare to execute those plans.