Four top candidates are jockeying to become the next Ward 5 councilmember. Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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Mail-in voting has started, and D.C.’s all-important Democratic primary is just weeks away on June 21. (Early voting begins June 10 at more than 30 locations across the District.) In a perfect world, you’d have read each and every one of City Paper’s riveting stories on the top races on the ballot throughout this election season, but in case you haven’t, we’ve tried to sum up everything you need to know about each one, as well as the wildest and weirdest tales from the campaign trail. Check back each day this week for a story on another race.

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie’s ill-fated run for attorney general has left him without a job come January and opened up the opportunity for someone else to leave their mark on one of D.C.’s most dynamic wards.

Seven people are jockeying for the seat, four of whom are considered viable contenders, judging by campaign funds, endorsements, and observations of political observers.

As early voting begins this week and with Election Day fewer than two weeks out, each of the top candidates have, for the most part, carved out their respective lanes.

Even before McDuffie announced he would relinquish the seat, Gordon-Andrew Fletcher threw his hat in the ring. The announcement came shortly after he fended off a targeted effort (supported by McDuffie), to knock him off his post as president of the ward’s Democratic Party. The challenge came from a slate of all women and amid accusations of sexism, which Fletcher, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in single member district 5A08, disputed. 

On the campaign trail, he’s leaned into his personal story and pitches himself as the would-be first immigrant to hold the seat. He was born in Jamaica, grew up in New York, and has spent most of his adult life in D.C. He also touts support from Mayor Muriel Bowser’s parents, Joe and Joan Bowser (the mayor has not endorsed in this race), and his success in preventing a liquor store from opening in his neighborhood.

Next, of course, there’s Vincent Orange—it wouldn’t be a Ward 5 race without him. Orange has appeared on local ballots nearly half a dozen times in the past 12 years. And in that time, he’s racked up more than $100,000 in debt, DCist recently reported, including to credit card companies and consultants that remain unpaid.

He’s also served as Ward 5 (and at-large) councilmember, and he’s touting exactly that experience in his bid this time around. The thinking among politicos goes that VO is hoping to rely on his steady base of support while the rest of the field splits the vote, and he ekes out a small plurality.

The potential problem for Orange is that the ward has changed significantly since he sat in the seat. Black residents have moved out while the number of White and Latinx residents has increased in the past decade. On the trail, Orange has given a clear indication of who he believes is his main opponent.

Zachary Parker, the youngest candidate, has endorsements from a coalition of lefty groups, including DC for Democracy, D.C. Working Families Party, and the D.C. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Orange attacks Parker for his left-leaning ideas, but he’s also faced blowback for homophobic comments about Parker’s decision to publicly announce that he’s gay. Parker is the current Ward 5 rep on the State Board of Education.

And then there’s Faith Gibson Hubbard, who quietly stands out in the field for several reasons, not the least of which is that she would be the first woman elected to represent Ward 5 on the Council. 

Gibson Hubbard also has the closest ties to Bowser, having received appointments to various positions in her administration including director of an initiative that supports parents and young children, the board of library trustees, and most recently as director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs. Her husband, Drew Hubbard, is also the interim director of the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Those appointments have critics questioning whether she will be too deferential to the mayor—an assertion Gibson Hubbard excuses as nothing more than an unfounded political attack. 

Parker and Gibson Hubbard lead the field with the most money raised, according to the most recent finance reports. Nearly 20 percent of Parker’s contributions come from the same people who gave to Robert White’s mayoral bid, and Gibson Hubbard shares about 23 percent of contributors with Bowser, according to an analysis from local activist Keith Ivey.

The three other candidates in the race are Art Lloyd, Gary Johnson, and former ANC Kathy Henderson, who has a, uh, complicated history in D.C. politics.

Other stories you might have missed

All-Women Slate Almost Makes Clean Sweep in Tense Ward 5 Dems Election

Harry Thomas Jr. Will Seek His Old Seat in Ward 5

Ward 5 Candidate Gordon-Andrew Fletcher Cited for Two DUIs, One Dismissed

Harry Thomas Jr. Drops Out, Unintentionally Plagiarized Campaign Lit

In Crowded Ward 5 Race, Gordon-Andrew Fletcher Turns to Local Seniors for Cash to Keep Pace

Vincent Orange Is Suing the Washington Business Journal for Defamation

Orange Facing Blowback After Attack of Opponent Parker’s Coming Out

Vincent Orange Fights Request to Dismiss Defamation Lawsuit Against WBJ, Reporter

Zachary Parker Supporters Question Faith Gibson Hubbard and Her Ties to Bowser

Candidate fast facts:

Gordon-Andrew Fletcher

Title: Chair, Ward 5 Democrats, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 5A08

Age: 37

Neighborhood: North Michigan Park

Key endorsements: Pierpont and Jeannette Mobley, longtime Ward 5 civil and political activists.

Most interesting questionnaire answer: Fletcher told the Post that he does not support congestion pricing downtown for the purpose of reducing traffic during rush hour. Orange and Gibson Hubbard disagreed. (Parker did not answer the Post’s questions).

Zachary Parker

Title: Ward 5 State Board of Education rep

Age: 35

Neighborhood: Union Market/Ivy City

Key endorsements: Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, Attorney General Karl Racine, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen

Most interesting questionnaire answer: Parker declined to answer the Washington Post’s questionnaire and instead wrote lengthy answers to their yes/no questions. In one of those responses, Parker admits he’s shifted on his support for mayoral control of D.C. public schools. He points to DCPS’s unilateral decision to close Washington Metropolitan High School as evidence that “process matters,” and without it “students, parents, and teachers bear the brunt of poor planning and execution without any actual check or balance.”

Faith Gibson Hubbard

Title: Former director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs

Age: 41

Neighborhood: Woodridge

Key endorsements: Washington Post editorial board, outgoing Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, At-Large Councilmember Christina Henderson, Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray

Most interesting questionnaire answer: Gibson Hubbard told GLAA that she supports decriminalizing drug possession and wants to explore how to decriminalize sex work, citing former Councilmember David Grosso’s failed bill on the matter.

Vincent Orange

Title: Former president and CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce, former councilmember

Age: 65

Neighborhood: Michigan Park

Key endorsements: former Councilmember John Ray

Most interesting questionnaire answer: Orange told the Washington Post that he would support taxpayer-funded construction or development of a new stadium for the Washington Commanders.

Gary Johnson

Title: former college basketball player

Age: Not provided

Neighborhood: Pleasant Hill

Key endorsements: N/A

Most interesting questionnaire answer: N/A

Kathy Henderson

Title: former advisory neighborhood commissioner 5D05

Age: Not provided

Neighborhood: Carver Langston

Key endorsements: N/A

Most interesting questionnaire answer: Henderson told the Eckington Civic Association that during her first 100 days in office she would organize an assessment to determine if any brownfields exist in Ward 5. “As a trained biologist I support activity that is environmentally safe for humans, other animals and all living organisms,” she wrote.

Art Lloyd

Title: former U.S. deputy marshal

Age: 71

Neighborhood: Brookland

Key endorsements: N/A

Most interesting questionnaire answer: N/A