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Is Jeff Thompson lying, or is Mayor Vince Gray lying about him lying? Newest mayoral candidate David Catania isn’t worried about the District’s question of the moment.

“I’m talking about my vision for the city, which doesn’t include serving as a human lie detector for Jeff Thompson or Vince Gray,” Catania told reporters outside U Street’s Reeves Center today after he ended three months of mayoral exploration by filing papers with the District’s Office of Campaign Finance to run as an independent.

Though the timing looks less than coincidental, Catania, who opened a campaign bank account five days before the Thompson plea deal became public, says his decision to announce this week wasn’t influenced the court proceedings. He says he doesn’t need to be facing a reeling Gray to win in November. Instead, Catania says he’ll point to his 17-year D.C. Council record, including United Medical Center, medical marijuana, gay marriage, and, most recently, a raft of legislation as chairman of the Council’s education committee.

Still, Catania took some jabs at the incumbent, including Gray’s claim that he’s played a large role in the city’s boom. A day after the mayor denied that his economic success was akin to jumping aboard an already moving economic train, Catania compared Gray to a gardener working plants that were seeded by someone else. Continuing his produce-themed metaphor, Catania defended his abrasive temperament by saying that politics requires a different attitude than cutting the crusts off of cucumber sandwiches.

As for whether the District’s overwhelmingly Democratic voters will ditch their party in November to back Catania, the Republican-turned-independent says they won’t have to.

“I think my record more embodies Democratic values than the field, candidly, running as Democrats,” Catania says.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery