Robert White
Robert White was an independent at-large candidate in the 2014 general election. (Photo credit: Facebook)

One of the candidates for the D.C. Council at-large position in 2014 has started the process of running for the city’s legislative body in 2016.

Robert White, who came in fourth in the D.C. Council at-large position in November 2014 as an independent, has set up an exploratory committee to seek one of the two at-large council seats in 2016. White, who will be running as a Democrat this time, said that District residents have encouraged him to seek a council seat once more.

“I am grateful for the calls from across the District asking me to step into the race,” White said. “This exploratory committee will allow us the opportunity to get started. We recognize that new leadership [in the city] is required.”

An exploratory committee is set up by a candidate to determine the feasibility of running for an elected office. The activities of exploratory committees, according to District law, consist of polling, travel and telephone calls to assess the benefits of being a candidate.

The committee officially goes out of business when the candidate files papers with the D.C. Board of Elections and the campaign finance office to run for a position.

White said that District residents want leaders who are accountable to the people.

“It’s time to wipe away the last vestiges of a checkered past and expectations of insider dealings and corruption so a new kind of leadership can emerge-a leadership that advocates for a level-playing field and transparent government and offers every citizen a better chance to participate in the economic growth in the District,” he said.

White told the AFRO that the issues that he campaigned on in 2014 are the same as in 2016.

“I am concerned about the schools in the city, jobs for D.C. residents and particularly now, public safety,” he said. “Those issues are still completely relevant and now they are more urgent.”

The Democratic Party primary takes place on June 14, 2016, and White’s main opponent will be D.C. Council member Vincent Orange (D-At Large). Political activist David Garber has joined the race and many political observers are waiting to see if former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray also joins the fray.

White, a District native who holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a law degree from the American University School of Law, has worked for D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) as legislative counsel and is presently employed as the director of community outreach for the Office of the District of Columbia Attorney General. He is also the president of the Brightwood Park Citizens Association in Ward 4, where he resides.

In 2014, White ran a campaign as an independent that received endorsements from labor unions, business groups, media organizations and former and present members of the D.C. Council.

White said his campaign operation will be different next year.

“One of the things I will focus on during this exploratory stage and the campaign is name recognition,” he said. “The last campaign that we had consisted of volunteers, even the campaign manager was a volunteer, and they did very well but this time we will have an experienced team to get our message out.”

White’s campaign chairman is Matt Frumin, a well-known Ward 3 education activist and candidate for the D.C. Council at-large seat in April 2013.

“Robert White can pull the people of the District together: rich, poor; Black, White; east and west,” Frumin said. “With Robert on the council, all of the people of the District have a better chance of sharing in the benefits of our city’s increasing prosperity.”

One of White’s opponents in 2014, entrepreneur Khalid Pitts, serves as the treasurer of the exploratory committee.

“Robert represents the future of the District-an inclusive place where each neighborhood gets the kind of support it needs to move forward,” Pitts said.

While White works for District Attorney General Karl Racine, he makes it clear that he is not interested in being associated strongly with his boss’s unofficial political organization or that of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s electoral apparatus.

“I am 100 percent my own guy and I am an independent voice,” he said. “I don’t fall into anyone’s camp.”