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Ex-mayor Vince Gray won this month’s Ward 7 Democratic party by nearly 30 percent over incumbent Yvette Alexander. That landslide, plus Gray’s Democratic affiliation, make his general election victory in November all but certain. Still, one Ward 7 advisory neighborhood commissioner wants his own shot at the seat.
During the primary, 45-year-old ANC 7B commissioner Gary Butler didn’t like his options. Butler didn’t like Alexander’s nine-year tenure in the Council seat, but he didn’t think Alexander should be replaced by Gray, who has already represented in the ward in the past. With the primary settled, Butler is now running for the seat himself.
“The city’s got a wave of new talent coming into the Council,” Butler says. “And I think Ward 7 deserves a chance to ride that wave as well.”
In March, Butler switched his party affiliation from Democrat to independent. If Butler can get enough signatures to make the ballot, he’ll face Gray on the November ballot.
Butler was inspired to run in part, he says, by how much of the focus in the Ward 7 has been on Gray’s possible mayoral ambitions.
“I have no interest in being anything other than a change agent,” Butler says.
If Alexander—supported by Mayor Muriel Bowser, a hefty fundraising apparatus, and almost a decade of incumbency—lost to Gray, Butler will almost certainly do the same. Gray campaign treasurer Chuck Thies declined to comment on Butler until he makes the ballot.
Butler sees some advantages to losing: Like biding his time for 2020, the next time the seat is scheduled to be on the ballot.
“It’s one of the better ways of getting your name out, if you’re thinking about a future in politics,” Butler says.