With eight days to go before the Democratic primary, Vince Gray and Tommy Wells headed to Johnson Memorial Baptist Church to pitch ministers on their campaigns. Top of the agenda for the two candidates: changing enforcement against church parishioners who violate parking rules.

After one minister complained about members of his church receiving $250 parking tickets, Gray said that resolving parking disputes is one of the most important issues facing the District Department of Transportation.

“I don’t like the fact that people who may have just arrived in the District of Columbia are now calling the police and calling law enforcement officials to give out tickets on Sundays when people are worshipping in their respective houses of worship,” Gray said.

Despite being one of Gray’s harshest critics in the race, Wells sounded similar to his rival on parking, saying that the ticketing fight was a “metaphor” for other disputes between the churches and new residents. Wells repeated his call for a cabinet-level religious affairs after conceding that it’s been “a little controversial” with some. (Gray, whose cabinet already has an Office of Religious Affairs, said Wells’ proposal left him feeling like he was in The Twilight Zone).

Gray faced several questions from the ministers about the federal investigation into his 2010 campaign, with one asking him when he would accept responsibility for the crimes of his campaign workers. Another minister asked Gray how he’s feeling after three years of the investigation, a question that prompted Gray to talk about looking at himself in the mirror every morning.

“As long as I can see somebody who I respect, I’m doing OK,” Gray said.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery