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D.C. Council member Tommy Wells kicks off his Campaign

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) kicked off his reelection campaign Friday night at a party in Eastern Market on Capitol Hill.

Wells, who is seeking his second term, surrounded himself with numerous community and political leaders as he vowed to continue his efforts to build a "livable, walkable city."

"You guys inspire me everyday," Wells told about 200 supporters.

Republican Jim DeMartino has filed to run against Wells in the November general election.

But Wells is so far the only Democrat in the race for the nomination, although the filing deadline is not until July. If he runs unopposed in the primary, Wells will have pulled off a major coup for a freshman, especially considering past political divisions in his ward.

Wells is white, but African-Americans account for about 60 percent of the population in heavily Democratic Ward 6, which includes Capitol Hill and much of Southwest Washington.

A former school board member, Wells replaced former council member Sharon Ambrose in 2006 after he defeated Curtis L. Etherly and Leo Pinson in the Democratic primary. Ambrose, who was retiring, endorsed Wells in that race.

Wells racked up big margins in the high-voting precincts on Capitol Hill, the same neighborhoods that overwhelmingly supported Ambrose during her campaigns.

At his campaign kick-off, Wells was joined on stage by Ambrose, former council member Harold Brazil and school board member Lisa Raymond. Wells also picked up endorsements from Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) and three of his colleagues, Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), David A. Catania (I-At large) and Phil Mendelson (D-At large).

"Tommy and I have a lot in common," Mendelson told the crowd, apparently referring to their progressive politics. "We have similar views on a lot of issues."

Wells plans to campaign on his efforts to improve neighborhood amenities, including the rebuilding of Eastern Market, a new recreational center and library in Rosedale, and new retail along H Street NE. Wells is also a major advocate for new bicycle paths and the planned streetcar project. During his speech, Wells also heralded efforts to improve the schools in Ward 6, noting there are long waiting lists for some of them.

Wells' biggest achievement citywide is the enactment of his proposal to impose a 5-cent tax on paper and plastic bags.

A Washington Post poll conducted in January found that District voters are nearly evenly split on the policy, with 46 percent of residents supporting the new tax while 49 percent oppose. But poll data indicates Wells' African-American constituents are far less supportive of the tax than white voters are.

Still, Wells doesn't appear worried.

"You are guys are so incredible," Wells told his supporters Friday night. "I walk down the street and you guys run up to me and say, 'I know you are getting a lot of grief, but I love that bag fee'. You guys do that so much I don't even hear from the other guys."

--Tim Craig

By Washington Post Editors  |  March 29, 2010; 10:04 AM ET
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Wells and Mendelson have teamed together to create some horrible policies for this city. I dont know how Wells is going to help create a walkable city by creating laws that put criminals who rob residents and then end up on the streets in no time. I wonder how many of the residents on Cap Hill know that the juveniles who terrorize some of the streets in Ward 6 are running around because of the policies supported by both Wells and Mendelson? I would like to see both of them voted out. Progressive politics, please....

Posted by: DCJUSTICE | March 29, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

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