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Apathy At-Large

What's so special about Tuesday's special election?

Let’s take bets on how low voter turnout will be for Tuesday’s election to fill an at-large DC Council seat. If I were a betting man, and I’m not, I’d wager the candidate who wins will bring in only 13, maybe 15-thousand votes -- tops. Maybe not even that much.

It may sound crazy, since there are some 459-thousand registered voters in the District, but let’s consider the candidates. Drum roll please!

In one corner, the man who’s already on the Council on a temporary basis: Sekou Biddle (and the crickets go wild)!

In the other corner, the man who keeps trying no matter how many times he loses: Vincent Orange!

One of these frontrunners has all the name recognition, and money to burn. The other has all the support of the Council. Sure, there are other candidates, and they really don’t stand a chance, which makes this race about as exciting as watching paint dry.

To Bryan Weaver, you put up a good fight against Jim Graham last year. Your campaign video was a big hit in the newsroom, and it’s very noble of you to want to rewrite the city’s ethics laws. You’re almost there.

To Josh Lopez, keep paying your dues. Lopez has taken some cues from Adrian Fenty by knocking on a lot of doors this spring. Wouldn’t it be something to actually have someone Hispanic represented on the Council?

To Patrick Mara, you’re a Republican.

Then again, what if we woke up and found Mara had won? Believe it or not, there was a time when the Council actually had a Republican on the Council. It makes me wonder how long it would take Mara to switch parties.

To Arkan Haile, at least you’re an Independent. Way to stand up for something.

To Alan Page, thank you for continuing the fine tradition of keeping the D.C. Statehood Green Party alive and well.

To Dorothy Douglas, thank you for representing the school board. She could probably make a fine Council member, and no disrespect to her or any of the other fine candidates.

Unfortunately, the small numbers who turn out to the polls Tuesday will really be considering one of the two front runners, and that’s pretty sad.

District residents know Vincent Orange because he has a history in D.C. politics, and to be frank, he just won’t go away. Plus, as of late last week he still had more than $130,000 left to spend on his campaign.

As for Sekou Biddle, he already has the support of most of the sitting Council members. That’s not necessarily a good thing these days, but it does mean more exposure for him.

Let’s forget about the candidates for a moment. What about the issues?

Do voters even care that the person who wins could be the deciding factor in a contentious budget battle to determine whether taxes go up, or cast the deciding vote on whether millions of dollars go to critical programs?

Do they care that the winner could make a difference to keep reform efforts going in the school system?

Do they care that the person who wins could actually try to whip this Council into shape and bring a new focus on ethics?

Maybe they don’t care because somehow a vote doesn’t matter much in a city that continues to fight for real voting rights.

Or maybe you will exercise your vote on Tuesday because, well, it is your civic duty. Maybe.

Maybe you’ll even vote for Tom Brown, who… Honestly, does anyone even know what he does? Whatever it is that you do, Mr. Brown, thank you for running.

sam beckett April 23, 2011 at 04:49 PM
i like the twist, and maybe I will vote on tuesday. just a shame there hasn't been much coverage of this election.
Doug Parrish April 23, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Thanks for the comment Sam! It's nice to see sarcasm not going to waste. This piece is meant to be OVERLY apathetic because I do believe it reflects the state of this election - and other elections like it. The fact is, IT IS important. Please exercise your vote!

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