District of Columbia mayoral candidate Andy Shallal says he wants the city "to be great for everyone, not just for some."
The Iraqi-born owner of the Busboys and Poets restaurant chain who came to America when he was 10 launched his mayoral bid Tuesday, saying he wants to expand economic opportunity for disadvantaged city residents. Campaign chairman Rock Newman says Shallal "is wholly untainted by the cesspool of Washington, D.C., politics."
The 58-year-old Shallal is one of several contenders in the April 1 Democratic primary, including four D.C. councilmembers. Mayor Vincent Gray hasn't said whether he'll seek re-election. Shallal supported Gray in 2010.
Shallal says city leaders haven't done enough to ensure that District of Columbia residents living in poverty can benefit from the city's prosperity. During his announcement, Shallal also mentioned he'd like to lower the voting age in the District to 17.
Shallal says he can raise enough money to compete, and he plans to accept corporate contributions, which are legal in the District. Councilmember Tommy Wells is the only candidate not accepting such contributions.
Friday, Shallal, along with other mayoral candidates, picked up nominating petitions to get their names on the ballot for the April 1 Democratic primary.
Candidates must collect 2,000 signatures of registered Democrats by Jan. 2.
The D.C. Bar Association is sponsoring the first candidate forum Wednesday night.