Early voting for D.C.'s Democratic mayoral primary kicked off on a snowy St. Patrick's Day, with election day set for Tuesday, April 1.
If you're in need of more information about the crowded candidate field -- yes, there are eight people running -- read on and click for more.
In alphabetical order:
You won't find a more out-of-the-box campaign than the one Allen's been running. Though initially gaining notoriety for his alleged involvement in the 2009 White House gate-crash scandal as the "third" crasher (Allen maintains that he was there as an invited guest and cleared of any wrongdoing), he has since used this publicity to further his political platform.
There's a YouTube rap video loaded with NSFW-language and a flashy "mobile campaign office" rolling around the city. The office, a renovated black RV with "Mayor Allen" emblazoned in gold letters, is Allen's campaign bus, or as he describes it, his mayoral "Air Force One."
Allen says he hopes to mobilize young voters and create new educational opportunities in the city. "I'm going to be the mayor that has the compassion to reach people..." Allen said. "Prosperity for all. That's the key." READ MORE.
A fifth-generation Washingtonian, D.C. Councilmember Bowser (Ward 4) says her interest in becoming an elected official stemmed from "a desire to make good neighborhoods great." She's been a favorite in the race for mayor, and is now in a dead heat with incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray, according to a new NBC4/Marist poll. In its February endorsement of Bowser, the Washington Post said Bowser can "open her mind to new ideas and surround herself with smart, capable staff" to lead the city.
During her time as a councilmember, Bowser introduced Kids Ride Metro Free, a program that subsidizes Metrobus rides for schoolchildren. Bowser says the program was a way to help families transport their children to schools after many neighborhood schools closed and help circumvent some truancy issues. As mayor, Bowser says she will continue her school reform efforts by expanding early childhood learning opportunities and invest in giving a quality education that will prepare them for the future. READ MORE.
D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (Ward 2) has made his name with successful big projects like Nationals Park, the Washington Convention Center and the revitalization of 14th Street.
He won his Council seat more than two decades ago with a strong campaign for LGBT rights, an issue he turned to immediately when he was elected. Evans helped pass 32 laws dealing with domestic partnerships and sought to repeal sodomy laws. In 2009, he co-sponsored the bill that legalized same-sex marriage in D.C.
"LGBT rights have been a priority since I ran 23 years ago -- they continue to be a top priority," Evans said.
He kicked off his mayoral campaign in front of 14th Street NW's Le Diplomate, a new French restaurant that acted as a shining representation of his successes as a councilmember. At the beginning of his tenure on the D.C. Council, 14th Street was the "center of prostitution and drug dealing in the city," Evans told the Washington Post. Evans has prided himself in helping to clean up the neighborhood and bring new jobs and businesses to the residents. READ MORE.
Reta Jo Lewis isn't shying away from her outsider status in D.C.'s mayoral primary. Instead, she's embracing it.
But while her declaration of candidacy may have seemed to come from left field, the former Department of State official has lived in the city 35 years -- long enough to refer to it as her hometown -- and she is, in fact, no stranger to city politics.
Lewis' decision to run was influenced by her frustration over the cloud of corruption over the city, and missed opportunities by city leaders to help those who need it most.
"It took our current political establishment three years before they started talking about the minimum wage...." she said. "It took them three and a half years and an election before they started talking about affordable housing." READ MORE.
Mayor Vincent Gray is pressing ahead with his re-election bid amidst allegations of election fraud in the wake of a plea bargain by D.C. businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who told prosecutors that Gray knew of more than $650,000 in illegal contributions. Gray has staunchly denied the claim.
"So I ask you, who do you believe?" Gray said during his State of the District speech last month. "A greedy man attempting to save himself, or me, a public servant who has dedicated his entire career to giving back to our communities?"
A February NBC4/WAMU/Washington Informer/Marist poll showed that Gray's also received high marks for the job he's been doing. A majority of Democrats say they're satisfied with his job as mayor, and 74 percent of Democrats say the city is on the right track.
And jobs and the economy -- not ethics -- are most important to voters, according to that poll. Since Gray took office in 2011, the city's unemployment rate has dropped from 10 percent to 8.1 percent, its lowest point in five years, and he says Ward 8 has seen its unemployment rate decline from 27 percent to 16.2 percent. READ MORE.
After 15 years of serving the District as a council member in the shadow of Vincent Gray, D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange (At-Large) says he’s ready to distance himself from the embattled mayor.
Orange vehemently denies claims he illegally accepted money from businessman Jeffrey Thompson back in 2011 during Orange's special election campaign. "I've been audited five times; I came back clean," he said.
Instead, he's tried to focus on the differences between him and Gray, including during the recent passing of the minimum wage bill. "I introduced and passed the minimum wage bill at $11.50 per hour while [Gray] only wanted $10 per hour," Orange said.
As for future infrastructure plans, Orange is a staunch supporter of transforming the former Redskins stadium into a family-centered entertainment venue. "We should have an indoor water park, things of that nature that we can do at the RFK campus," Orange said. READ MORE.
You may not recognize Andy Shallal by name, but you probably know his restaurants. In 2005, he opened Busboys and Poets, a restaurant, book store and lounge that's become a community gathering place for progressives. In the five years since, he's opened three more Busboys, and on the opposite corner from his flagship restaurant on 14th and V, he opened Eatonville.
As an Iraqi-American, Shallal says his own ethnicity allows him to tackle the issue of race, because he isn't caught in the black-white dichotomy that's pervasive in a city that's seen a succession of black mayors since the end of home rule in 1973. Shallal said he doesn't identify with a race, lending to his larger campaign narrative of inclusiveness.
Shallal says he also wants to help the city's marginalized population, including residents of Wards 7 and 8, which he says are not reaping the benefits of the District's development projects.
"They need their own economic development in those neighborhoods," Shallal said, "rather than hope that somehow economic development west of the river will just somehow trickle over to the other side." READ MORE.
As mayor, D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6) would want to tackle issues reflective of his social work background, investing $100 million toward a youth initiative that aims to halve teenage crime in two years, and creating walking clubs for seniors and hiring young people to help out after school.
"There are many things we can do to connect youth to the future of our city that will keep them from committing crimes," he said. "You have to be creative and smart. It's as simple as that."
The challenge for Wells is to stand out in a crowded field of mayoral candidates. He is running his campaign on integrity and has been outspoken against Gray and the federal investigation into Gray's 2010 campaign.
"The scandal hasn't ended," Wells he said. "These indictments will continue for a long time. He has not explained what he did, why he did it. We need to know what happened, but also I would not be running but for the fact that Vince Gray ran an illegal campaign." READ MORE.