Carlos Allen is not a newcomer to the D.C. political scene, although he may lack the instant name recognition compared to some of his opponents.
As an independent, he ran a failed bid for mayor of D.C. in 2010, and has since been involved in other minor political campaigns and behind-the-scenes efforts. For his 2014 run, Allen plans to energize more young voters in hopes to secure his election.
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.
In addition to small-scale local political work, Allen has also donned an alter ego called "Mayor Allen," a moniker he uses for his politically themed raps. His single, “Ring the Bells” includes explicit language but has garnered more than a million views on YouTube, a celebrity status Allen leveraged to reach younger voters who may not normally be inclined to vote.
"Rap is really about providing a message," Allen explained as his mobile office (more on that in a moment) rolls around Northeast D.C.
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."
"A mayor should be able to get around all the time," he says, producing a stack of voter registration forms. “We're actually going to be riding around a little bit later getting people registered to vote."
Allen's unconventional approach to politics was heavily influenced by his experiences as an immigrant from Panama, where he saw "extreme poverty" and was motivated to push for changes in education and a more even economic playing field. In order to reduce poverty, Allen wants to increase educational opportunities, which he says will in turn increase the number of jobs and level of economic freedom of people in the District. From there, Allen is confident that poverty and its effects will shrink as well.
"I'm going to be the mayor that has the compassion to reach people..." Allen said. "Prosperity for all. That's the key."