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Taking note . . .

Observations about public affairs in the nationís capital
by the editor of The Common Denominator

LABOR ABANDONS BRAZIL, CHAVOUS: Incumbent Ward 8 Councilwoman Sandy Allen acknowledged being "a little disappointed" over not receiving organized laborís support for her re-election when the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO announced its Democratic primary endorsements on July 21.

"Iíve worked very hard with labor over the past few years, and working people are the people I represent in Ward 8," she told The Common Denominator.

The labor council said it will remain neutral in this fall's Ward 8 council race, in which former mayor Marion Barry, school board member William Lockridge and Advisory Neighborhood Commission chairmen Sandra Seegars and Jacque Patterson are among seven candidates challenging Allen.

But two of Allen's council colleagues who also have counted on receiving labor union support in the past, Harold Brazil and Kevin Chavous, weren't talking publicly about the labor council's decision to work against their re-election. The local AFL-CIO has endorsed Brazil challenger Kwame Brown in the at-large race and Chavous challenger Vincent Gray in the Ward 7 contest on the Sept. 14 ballot.

Allen, Brazil and Chavous all were endorsed four years ago by the labor council, which is comprised of 175 labor unions representing 150,000 members in the District and suburban Maryland.

"The District faces tremendous challenges in providing quality public education, affordable housing and public health and safety," labor council President Joslyn Williams said. "Itís critical that we have city council members with a full-time commitment to working families to ensure that all of our citizens benefit from the cityís emerging prosperity."

The labor council also endorsed Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans and Ward 4 Councilman Adrian Fenty, who face no opposition in the Democratic primary.

An elated Brown expressed gratitude to local unionized workers when informed by The Common Denominator of his endorsement by the AFL-CIO.

"It shows that working class people here in the city are ready for a change," he said.

Laborís endorsement generally infuses hundreds of volunteers into political campaigns, as well as providing critical assistance with election day efforts to get supportive voters to the polls.

Both Brown and Gray said their campaigns will welcome the additional assistance to take on well-funded incumbents.

Brown has been endorsed by the Ward 1 Democrats and also received strong support, though short of endorsement, from Democratic Party organizations in Wards 2 and 8 and on Brazilís Ward 6 home turf. Brazil, who has served 14 years on the city council, has failed to win endorsements from his political partyís organizations in any of those wards.

Gray said the Ward 7 Democrats, which he heads, will remain neutral for this year's Democratic primary to avoid any appearance of bias. Both Gray and Brown, who live in Hillcrest, are active in the Ward 7 Democratic Party organization. Gray said he hopes to have the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia conduct an informational candidates forum at the Ward 7 Democrats' scheduled meeting at the end of August.

Copyright 2004, The Common Denominator