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The Challengers: Baruti Jahi in Ward 4

Baruti Jahi, running for council in Ward 4 as an opponent of Muriel Bowser, walked up and down the sidewalk outside the C. Melvin Sharpe Health School on 13th St. NW.

He arrived shortly before 11, shook hands with election workers and greeted voters. He called out to one woman who walked in, "It's not too late!"

He said he'd already talked to her.

"She initially was supporting my opponent. She still might. But I was breaking her down."

He said he was worried about low voter turnout, which he was afraid favored Bowser.

"We knocked on over 20,000 doors," he said. "I'm just hoping that people come out and not stay home."

He said, "I represent independent leadership, not obligated to the mayor or special interests."

Jahi said he was upset about the city's dismissal of public school teachers and principals without due process.

His original cardboard flier he handed out to people had a photo of himself alone on it, a standard head shot. He said he was watching a show on television in which voters were asked if they favored Obama or Clinton. Many were torn. Then the voters were shown a photo of Obama with his wife and children, and more voters favored him. Jahi realized the appeal of his family over a single photo of himself.

"My wife said, 'You need to start showing the family,'" he said.

So he got a new cardboard flier with Jahi, his wife, their toddler son and their dog. The new flier totally changed the course of his campaign, for the better.

"The first 50 houses, all they could do was smile and say, 'I love that little baby.'" he said. "I would come back and say, 'Don't make that baby cry. Vote for his daddy."

Mike Ruane

By Marcia Davis  |  September 9, 2008; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  2008 District Election  
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