19 Feb 2014

Local Politics:

Ward Six Councilmember Candidates: Darrel Thompson (UPDATED)

Darrel Thompson outside Ebenezers Coffeehouse, February 10, 2014. Photo by María Helena Carey

Darrel Thompson outside Ebenezers Coffeehouse, February 10, 2014. Photo by María Helena Carey

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.

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8 responses to “Ward Six Councilmember Candidates: Darrel Thompson (UPDATED)”

  1. districtwanderer says:

    I haven’t heard a single proposed course of action on any item from either candidate. Saying you “like” something or “want to” do something is not a plan; it’s an idea.

    I think both candidates are very smart and capable, and I’ll be content with either, but how disappointing.

  2. lizzle34 says:

    Would any of the candidates support an open primary in DC, with the top two candidates advancing, regardless of political party? As a Republican, I’m effectively (doubly) disenfranchised. I would like to see more voters (registered independents, Libertarians, fellow Republicans) be a part of the democratic process. The real “insiders” are Democrats who select/annoint a candidate in a primary.

    • mustourdman says:

      You’re only disenfranchised if you are prevented from voting or the system is rigged to not reflect the will of the people. In this system, we elect eight of our councilmembers from single-member wards. In both the primary and the general elections, the candidate with the most votes wins. The fact that for Ward 6 (and for that matter all of the Wards) the person with the most votes will almost always be a Democrat does not disenfranchise you — it just demonstrates that candidates who hold your political views do not have enough popular support to win elections here.

      In fact, DC’s election system goes out of its way to provide representation for minority parties or independent candidates by reserving two of the four city-wide councilmember seats for them.

      The fact that the Republican Party (or the Green and Libertarian parties for that matter) have not been able to win one of the seats — for which the Democratic Party is not allowed to compete — in more than a decade shows the lack of popular support among the public for those parties, and possibly their disorganization as well.

      An open primary is an interesting idea, but is vulnerable to outside “hacking” (e.g., secretly running false flag candidates to split the larger party’s vote) and in California’s experience with it, has not always led to the top two candidates being the most reflective of the voters’ wishes.

  3. todd_dc says:

    I really do not understand his allegation that some insider group will select the next councilmember. This is an election. He is fighting hard for votes and so is Charles Allen. Both should continue to do so. This is not a case in which a group (e.g. a closed room of party leaders) is filling a sudden vacancy, it is an election for an open seat.

    Thompson’s allegation doesn’t make sense and, frankly, undermines his credibility in my eyes. With all of his experience in national politics, I would have thought that he’d be able to run on his own ideas (and honest critiques of Allen’s positions) and not try to confuse people with this misleading BS. I’m disappointed.

    Your correction suggests that his other allegation (re corporate contributions) also is bunk. I don’t know whether you misheard him or he mis-spoke, but it really does not matter.

    I hope that Darrel Thompson knocks it off. I want to hear about the candidates’ positions and plans, not some made up allegations. I don’t think that I am alone in that desire.

    • Sabastian Cochran says:

      You only need to attend a ward 6 democrats meeting to understand what Thompson is referring to.

      • Jim Simpson says:

        Darrel is right on point about the same old same old group hand picking the most pliable candidate. As for donations, both Wells and Allen claim not to take business checks but look at the individual checks. They’re still giving just not not with business checks.

  4. AnacostiaWhitewater says:

    Darrel is correct that we should scrutinize campaign contributions. Let’s start with his. Why are so many people beyond Ward 6 supporting Darrel? His contributions are from individuals in the states of AK, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, MA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, NV, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, and WA. His campaign also has money from corporations in DC and MD and PACs in DC, KS, MD, OH, and VA. Let’s hear why the Ward 6 race is being watched nationwide. http://www.ocf.dc.gov/dsearch/searchresultcon.asp?mf1=&ml1=&ms1=&mo1=N&mc1=&xa=&sa=&ea=&ca=N&sc=&mf3=&ml3=&ms3=&mc3=Thompson&mf4=&ml4=&ms4=&mo4=N&d1=0&m1=0&y1=0&d2=0&m2=0&y2=0&d3=0&m3=0&y3=0&mo5=N&sc5=&ob1=organization&ob2=&ob3=&asc=asc&sr=6&type=pcc&confirsttimeflag=N&searchtype=rec

    • HillResident says:

      Whitewater? You are right to associate yourself with a pathetic attempt to smear, Friend of Charles.

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