While embattled fire chief Kenneth Ellerbe announced only last night that he’ll retire in July, District wags have long been considering one option for the soon-to-be-ex-chief: a run at the Ward 7 seat held by Councilmember Yvette Alexander.
The idea that Ellerbe would run for office in his ward has been around for a while. Anti-violence activist Ron Moten, who unsuccessfully ran against Alexander as a Republican in 2012, tells LL that he heard rumors even then that Ellerbe was eying the office.
Alexander herself says that she’s heard “rumblings” for months that Ellerbe was considering her job. She started to notice him going to lots of Ward 7 meetings, a phenomenon she was tweeting about just minutes before the Post reported Ellerbe’s resignation.
With a fire department tenure marked by labor strife, the death of a man outside a fire station, and equipment problems, Ellerbe might not exactly seem like a shoo-in for a Council seat. But he’s close enough with Mayor Vince Gray, a former Ward 7 councilmember, that Gray ignored calls for Ellerbe’s resignation even as Ellerbe’s woes turned from farce to tragedy, then back again. Gray and Alexander, meanwhile, haven’t been getting along lately.
For now, Alexander diehards can relax. Alexander tells LL that Ellerbe, responding to the rumors, promised her months ago that he wouldn’t run after Ward 7 residents unhappy with Alexander tried to recruit him.
“I want to let you know I am not running and I support you 100 percent,” Alexander recalls Ellerbe telling her.
Ellerbe didn’t respond to LL’s email, possibly because he has more pressing things to deal with today than an election two years in the future.
When LL asked Alexander how she thought Ellerbe’s time running the fire department would be remembered, she turned cryptic.
“Last impressions are the most memorable,” Alexander says.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery