William E. Hunt, a resident in the Brookland section of Ward 5, has filed paperwork with the D.C. Board of Elections and the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance to recall Kenyan McDuffie (D). Hunt told the AFRO he took the extraordinary action because McDuffie ignores his constituents.
“Basically he doesn’t respond to the interests and the needs of the voters,” Hunt said. “If you write or call him about any type of service, he doesn’t respond. He doesn’t respond to the requests of advisory neighborhood commissioners, and he has been disconnected with what is going on in the ward.”
Hunt said some Ward 5 residents are angry at McDuffie for supporting the location of the ward’s homeless shelter on Rhode Island Avenue, others are uneasy about the council member’s push to develop the McMillan Reservoir site into a commercial, retail, and residential center while others want to preserve its historical legacy and keep it environmentally attractive.
Hunt added that McDuffie is a no-show at many community meetings and he criticized a part of the council member’s legislation on comprehensive criminal justice reform in the District.
“McDuffie wanted to pay people not to commit crimes,” Hunt said. “He worked two years on that foolish piece of legislation. The people of Ward 5 won’t stand for that.”
McDuffie was elected to the D.C. Council in the May 15, 2012 special election that took place as a result of the resignation of Harry Thomas Jr. from the Ward 5 council position. On April 1, 2014, he was nominated for a four-year term and with 78 percent of the vote in the Democratic Party primary he moved on to the Nov. 4, 2014 general election where he won with 83 percent of the vote.
McDuffie, chairman pro tem of the D.C. Council and the Committee on the Judiciary, is considered a rising star in District politics. Political observers expect he will run for the District’s delegate to the U.S. Congress, mayor, or D.C. Council chairman in a few years.
McDuffie told the AFRO that he will run for re-election in 2018. However, if Hunt has his way, McDuffie will fight for his seat and political life much sooner.
Hunt began the recall process in May and said he is working on getting 10 percent of the registered voters in Ward 5 to sign his petition to remove McDuffie. Hunt’s organization has 180 days after picking up the petitions to file those documents with the elections board.
If the board of elections determines the signatures are valid, it will set a special election date. The special elections ballot will basically ask the voters whether to keep McDuffie as a council member or not. No member of the D.C. Council has been recalled since the advent of Home Rule in the District in 1974.
McDuffie told the AFRO that he is aware of Hunt’s activities. “I am disappointed that this individual filed a notice of intent to recall,” he said. “However, I have received substantial support from Ward 5 residents and they have asked me to continue to represent them. I am proud to represent the ward where I was born and raised.”
Ronnie Edwards is an advisory neighborhood commissioner for district 5A05 in Ward 5 and is active with the Democratic Party in the District. “I don’t see what his point is,” Edwards told the AFRO. “Sometimes politicians will do things that will make people unhappy but I don’t see it rising to the level of a recall.”
Robert Brannum is the president of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations and is a resident of Ward 5. While he supports Hunt’s right to express his displeasure with McDuffie in whatever manner he pleases, but he questions the value of a recall. “I don’t understand the foundation and the reasoning of the recall,” Brannum told the AFRO. “Is he upset because McDuffie didn’t support an activity or event? If that was the case, every elected official would be subject to a recall at the whim of a voter who is dissatisfied, especially when they are on the losing side of an issue.”