Today I announce my support for Vincent Gray for mayor. Gray is the right person to lead us for the next four years and I urge others to join me in campaigning and voting for him on Sept. 14.
Gray is a highly intelligent, compassionate, thinking human being. He has never looked for the limelight but has steadily and consistently left a positive mark on the District of Columbia.
Vince Gray has worked in both government and the non-profit sector. He successfully built Covenant House, working with homeless kids showing both his ability to run and build an organization and the compassion to build one for youth in need. He managed the Department of Human Services and did so successfully during very difficult times. He has managed large numbers of employees and as chair of the Council successfully managed what we in local parlance often refer to as our 12 little mayors.
Vince Gray has long believed that we need to unite our city. He understands and isn’t afraid to look at people as they are. He has looked into the eyes of despair of some of our residents and knows that we have to serve them and give them renewed hope, while at the same time balance a declining budget with the wants and desires of all District residents. He isn’t afraid to confront the racism, sexism and homophobia that exist in our city as he tries to rid us of these prejudices through education.
I recently met with Gray and asked why I should endorse him and what I could say to convince others.
He spoke of his commitment to put an end to the bickering between the Council and the executive and as mayor he will recognize the legitimate role each plays. He talked about his commitment to education reform and his role getting it passed by the Council, not an easy task. He said that he believed that Michelle Rhee could still be a positive force as chancellor but that she would have to work with him as mayor and his approach to people, teachers and the community, which is different from the current mayor.
He committed to sitting down with her to discuss the future but correctly felt it would be presumptive to have such a meeting before he won the primary. He laid out a broader vision of education than the current mayor. He is proud of passing legislation for early childhood education and discussed his vision for education from birth through college. He is committed to educating parents to prepare them to help their children in school. He committed to fighting adult illiteracy and talked about his work to enhance the University of the District of Columbia and his support of the new Community College.
Gray spoke of his longtime advocacy and support of the LGBT community. His profile in courage, as a Catholic from east of the river, led the Council to pass marriage equality. He spoke out on hate crimes when the current mayor was silent. Gray spoke of what he sees as a crisis of HIV/AIDS and the ability a mayor has to involve the community in solutions, which he is committed to do. He voiced his concern about Dr. Shannon Hader leaving the city’s AIDS office and committed to making it a priority to conduct a national search for a new director.
He discussed his views on economic development and budget management and how he allowed the budget negotiations to be televised as a sign of his commitment to transparent government. He understands the process isn’t pretty but that the public is entitled to participate in the process. Gray talked about meeting the needs of so many people and interest groups and how they must be balanced. He is confident as mayor he will be able to prepare and present a budget balanced without gimmicks. He is open to ideas and suggestions from individuals and communities, but his gut tells him we need to make sure that the least of us is taken care of and is confident that the people of the District want that to happen. He will work to make D.C. truly business friendly and knows better schools and lower crime rates will attract new residents.
Vince Gray is a quiet leader. He is a man with a compassionate vision of the future and a man of the people. Gray is a D.C. native, a civil rights activist and a community organizer with a proven ability to bring people together. He is the right man for this time in the city’s history.