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It Wasn’t Just Vincent Gray That Got a Raw Deal

It was us also — the citizens of the District of Columbia!

We were, and continue to be, absolutely convinced that Vincent Gray would have won the April 2014 primary and have gone on to a highly deserved second term instead of a Mayor Bowser but for the growing, strong perception that he was something of a crook.

How was it that such a perception took hold so strongly? Partly, very possibly, because Gray himself –- or his advisors -– lacked the astuteness for aggressively managing an effective damage control plan.

Nevertheless, we ascribe the perception infection –- and it surely spread like a pandemic –- to the overly long, drawn-out supposed deep investigation by the U.S. Attorney at the time, Ron Machen, who kept leaking out little dribbles of tantalizing suggestions of this and that which were presumably accumulating into a large pile of hard evidence of campaign finance wrongdoing orchestrated by Gray himself. But, when all was said and done, there really wasn’t anything other than innuendo and the statements of others who had actually admitted to having been the bad actors.

It would have, therefore, been far better in the public interest for the prosecutor’s office to keeps quiet until there would have actually been an indictment –- but since none was on the horizon, we are at a loss as to why Machen chose to do as he did.

So, now along comes the new U.S. Attorney who just last month closed down the Gray investigation, realizing that there was simply no credible evidence against him.

What now? Vince Gray should definitely get back into the fray. The best way for him to do that –- and best for us citizens –- is to rejoin the city council. That is where he served, both as a member and then as chairman, with distinction and with his priorities being the regular taxpaying residents; it was that effective service on the council that led to his being elected as mayor in the first place.

For a position on the council, he has two possible routes: either the at-large seat of Vincent Orange or the Ward 7 seat of Yvette Alexander. Political insiders seem to agree that the Ward 7 seat would be the best route, not only because Councilmember Alexander is perceived as not overly effective but also –- and probably more significant –- Ward 7 is Vince Gray’s home ward; it is where he got his political start as the ward’s council member in 2005 before being elevated to the chairmanship in 2007. Also, he is very popular there.

As reported in the Washington Post, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh “welcomed that prospect, saying Gray ‘would be an excellent and strong member of the body.’” Further, Cheh predicted that Gray will run and if elected. As stated by the Post, “would cost Bowser support on the council.”

One reader comment that was appended to the aforementioned article echoed the view of Councilmember Cheh with the observation that it would be good “to see Gray on the Council again [; that] he did well in the past and he would serve as a good counter-balance to the mayor and those on council who serve as ‘rubber stampers.’”

One reader comment that stood out for us was from Anessa Manningham:

“I’ve met Vince Gray. He is unquestionably one of the kindest people you could ever meet. I am particularly impressed with his lifelong work with individuals with disabilities. He displays a very charitable and adept demeanor. He is a prodigious class act.

”I will admit that I did not vote for him when he ran against Fenty but he won me over during his impressive tenure as Mayor. Crime was down significantly during his administration and he continued with robust school reform. Thanks in large part to his leadership, my daughter can benefit from one of the most inclusive early childhood education programs in the nation. I am so grateful.

”I found Mayor Gray to be eloquent, astute, and steadfastly dedicated to running this city as efficiently as possible. Unlike previous mayors and their staffs, he was extremely accessible and responsive. I was told that he never took one day of vacation as Mayor. His dedication to this city has been remarkable. If he decides to run again now or into the future, there are so many voters poised to return him to the Wilson Bundling. It is just inevitable.”

We couldn’t have said it better; she so perfectly expresses why we need Vince Gray back. Thank you, Ms. Manningham.