April 14, 2011 | by Peter Rosenstein
Sekou Biddle for at-large Council seat

It is easy to be impressed with Sekou Biddle and to recognize and applaud his independence and dedication to education reform. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Morehouse College and master’s in early childhood education, with a focus on urban education, from Georgia State University. He began his career as a teacher, worked with Teach for America and was elected in 2007 to the D.C. State Board of Education on a reform platform.

But there is more to Sekou than education. He is comfortable in every ward of our city and has a natural understanding of people and what they need to succeed. He supports the arts and is committed to continuing to highlight the cultural diversity of our residents. He was born in Columbia Heights and now lives with his wife, Cara, a pediatrician at the Children’s Medical Center, and their two boys in Shepherd Park.

There are many candidates running in this at-large election but Sekou Biddle is the only one with a record of keeping his commitments to the people of the District who have supported him in the past. He is not the candidate elected to office who, 17 days after being sworn in, announced he is running for another. He is not the candidate serially running for office and desperately trying to make a comeback.

Sekou is the candidate who will work to turn around the city’s budget crisis in a way that enables us to aggressively move forward with education reform, provide needed affordable housing and ensure a safety net for those in need, including our seniors and people with disabilities. He understands it is our diversity that makes us great. Whether it is his support for full human and civil rights for the LGBT community including marriage equality, his willingness to speak out on hate crimes, his support of programs to fight HIV/AIDS or his support of statehood and total self-determination for the people of the District, he is a leader. Sekou Biddle will lead in a way that respects both our city employees and residents.

Sekou’s candidacy is supported by a broad coalition of groups including the Stein Club. Some observers mistakenly call him the candidate of the establishment. I always remind them that Sekou Biddle actually endorsed Adrian Fenty for mayor. But lo and behold when Sekou decided to run, Fenty was out. So he put himself forward as an independent candidate supporting education reform with the ability to use his business knowledge and non-profit background to find solutions to the many issues facing our city.

Despite his vote for Fenty, Sekou is now supported by many of the incumbent Council members. They support him not because they owe him a favor or expect one from him, but because they recognize that a new, smart, independent voice on the Council is good for the District. It is telling when politicians you once actively opposed turn around and endorse you. It says a lot about how Sekou will be able to navigate on the Council to get things done for us.

We need continued progress in the District. We need members of the Council who aren’t in the pocket of big business but at the same time understand that robust economic development is crucial to our growth and job development. We need Council members who understand the balance of making D.C. business friendly while respecting the right of communities to have a voice in their own development. Sekou Biddle will be that kind of Council member. Sekou is running for office not because someone else put him up to it, but because it is the logical extension of the work that he has already done for the people of the District.

Sekou has the maturity and independence to lead us forward. He is a proud Democrat and someone who will fight without any potential divided loyalties against what this Congress is trying to foist on the District. Sekou will be a welcome independent new voice on the Council able to speak out for all of us.

I urge the voters of the District — Democrats, independents and Republicans — to cast their ballot for Sekou Biddle for Council at-Large on April 26.

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