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Muriel Bowser‘s proposal for a deputy mayor for east of the river issues sounds like the kind of good-government policy no one could disagree with. (Personally, LL will vote for whoever promises to appoint a Deputy Mayor for LL Affairs.) But the deputy mayor position is turning out to be surprisingly controversial.

Bowser’s plan took attacks from three candidates at Saturday’s Ward 8 Democrats forum, including rapper Carlos Allen and At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange. “You don’t need no deputy mayor of anybody to come and help you out,” Orange told the crowd. “What you need is leadership to get it done.”

Mayor Vince Gray, who’s started calling Wards 7 and 8 “the East End,” used Bowser’s proposal to pivot into an applause line. “You don’t need a Deputy Mayor for East of the River Strategy,” Gray said. “You need a mayor who’s going to be focused on East of the River, and by the way, I live east of the river.”

Of course, that didn’t stop Bowser from getting more votes than anyone else after the Ward 8 forum.

LL’s waiting to hear back from Bowser on her opponents’ attacks, but in the meantime, reaction in those wards is mixed.

Ward 8 activist and former At-Large D.C. Council candidate Sandra Seegars worries that the deputy mayor position would allow a mayor to shrug off responsibility for two of the city’s wards onto the deputy. “It’d be like two cities,” Seegars says.

Ward 8 Democrats president Natalie Williams isn’t so opposed. Maybe the two wards with the highest unemployment rates in the city and new development could do with some special attention.

“There’s a lot that’s going to be happening here, and if it requires under her leadership to have someone totally focused on Ward 8, then I’m all for that,” Williams says.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery