Has Washington Had Enough of Marion Barry?

Gentrification and persistent poverty have voters divided.

Posted: 09/02/2011 02:40 PM EDT
Filed Under Marion Barry

Marion Barry

Former Washington mayor and city council member Marion Barry represents one of the District’s most economically challenged wards. Ward 8, which includes the historic Anacostia neighborhood where Frederick Douglass once lived, has the city’s highest unemployment and lowest homeownership rates. Even Barry, who lives in the area, recently dissed it when asked about damage to his car and a dragging bumper.

 

“When you live in the ghetto, this happens,” he told reporters.

 

According to a report in the Washington Informer, constituents are divided on whether to support the former four-term mayor in his bid for a fourth term next year. Some still plan to vote for Barry, like entrepreneur Phinis Jones, who said he plans to vote for Barry because he’s unimpressed with the people who’ve expressed an interest in challenging him.

 

“I know of several candidates that are interested and they have talked to me but none have the experience that Barry has,” Jones said.

 

Another resident, who lives in the historic part of the area, said that re-electing Barry, 75, feels like “a step backward,” which is a sign of the divide taking place between “Old Ward 8” and “Historic Anacostia,” which has begun attracting African-American and white professionals and, the Informer reports, are interested in green spaces, bike lanes and economic development.

 

“A lot of rhetoric that is against Barry is coming from Historic Anacostia. These are newcomers and they don’t see eye-to-eye with the rest of the ward,” James Bunn, executive director of the Ward 8 Business Council, told the publication. “Some people are saying that Barry is not paying enough attention to the ward as he should.”

 

But according to Jones, the politically seasoned Barry is very much focused on moving the area forward, citing his support for legislation that would make it more difficult for people to rely on the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. He also sponsored a bill that would prevent apartment building construction in the ward.

(Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO)

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