I picked up on this after the penultimate campaign finance filing deadline, but it’s become more concrete recently: An ad-hoc collection of prominent preservationists and city planners are thrilled at the election of Vince Gray, and are hosting an after-the-fact fundraiser for him this Friday Thursday, September 30. Along with the Greater Greater Washington crew, they’re another group that bucks the narrative of wealthier, whiter people favoring Adrian Fenty.
The host committee includes former Office of Planning Director Ellen McCarthy, Ann Hargrove of the Kalorama Citizens Association and Committee of 100, lawyer Andrew Potts, and former Historic Preservation Review Board Members Charles Robertson and Denise Johnson. The last two, when we spoke for a story about new HPRB chair Catherine Buell, were none too happy about Fenty’s appointment of relatively inexperienced boardmembers. Johnson in particular recalled being notified by voicemail a few days before a hearing that her term was up—but that she could serve on any other board she wished.
“If the mayor doesn’t want me on a board that I’m qualified for, why would he want me on a board that I’m not qualified for?” Johnson said. “To me it’s just a blatant slap in the face of what these boards and commissions are supposed to be about.”
Sally Berk, the Committee of 100’s point person on Union Station and an expert on pre-World War II firehouses, is hosting the “Victory Feast” at her house on Wyoming Avenue. Her explanation of why she’s so excited about Gray reflects a desire for the kind of respect and attention that Fenty never gave.
“I’ve testified before Gray on several occasions—always, of course, on a topic related to preservation,” Berk writes. “Each time, Gray had prepared extensively for the hearing. He was conversant with the topic, listened attentively, asked incisive questions, made astute comments, and was polite to everyone regardless of her position or comportment. On one occasion, he was the only councilperson to show up for a hearing that was supposed to be before the Committee of the Whole. On another occasion, I sent him an email a few hours after the hearing, to receive, only a few hours after that, a response—a meaningful, not generic response. Several years later, he recalled one of my testimonies…Regarding preservation issues, I have every reason to believe that Gray knows or is educable about the value of preservation to economic development and to reducing the carbon footprint.”