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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Meet the Ward 8 Candidates

Salim Adofo (D)
“A people without vision will perish,” Adofo has said. He says the issues in Ward 8 aren’t new ‒ but it is time for a leader with a vision and foresight who can connect the community for one common cause. Adofo says he is the one.

Elected to Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 8C in 2018 and chair since 2021, Adofo is a graduate of the University of the District of Columbia and a US Army veteran. Adofo says it is time for new leadership with a vision for the community.

During his time on ANC 8C, Adofo established the Ward 8 STEM Academy, which serves elementary and middle schoolers. He has also had success in improving road safety in Ward 8 and as a tenant organizer.

His platform centers on improving housing quality by supporting tenant associations, reducing Ward 8 healthcare disparities by reducing costs and increasing health awareness, as well as making citizens safer by reducing truancy, using data-driven components in the Secure DC act to benefit the community and ensuring adequate family supports.


Rahman Branch (D)
Rahman Branch doesn’t fit the prototypical background of councilmembers, who usually start in local politics as members of ANCs. Branch was the principal of Ballou High School from 2008 to 2014, when, he says, test scores improved while suspensions and in-school violence decreased. From 2015 to 2019, Branch was the executive director of DC’s Office on African American Affairs. Branch created Financially Fit DC, an initiative intended to help Washingtonians achieve financial freedom. He has a master’s degree in leadership from Georgetown University.

Branch has worked to make sure government agencies move the needle for development in Black communities and to ensure it is done in ways that honor the wishes and needs of residents. He believes that Ward 8 needs to address public safety from a public health standpoint. He argus for a reallocation of educational  resources education to make Ward 8 home to schools of choice. He argues for increased access to jobs that earn a living wage as a method of ensuring home ownership.

Making people safer, Branch argues, involves supporting alternatives to violence for youth, wraparound family services and vocational training. It is also crucial, he says, to make housing more affordable, increase literacy and equip youth with financial skills.


Nathan “Nate” Derenge (R)
Nate Derenge moved to Fairlawn nine years ago and is the sole Ward 8 Republican candidate to seek election to the DC Council. He was also the Republican nominee in 2020. Derenge says he is generally against government programs, preferring to address community issues through nonprofits, churches and businesses in the neighborhoods.

The District, Derenge says, needs to examine spending, given that the budget has increased by $4 billion since 2019 despite a decrease in population. He calls for greater pressure on the US Attorney’s Office, arguing for increased prosecution to improve public safety. Acknowledging the limitations of home rule, Derenge nonetheless is not an advocate of statehood believing it is a heavy lift requiring a constitutional amendment. At an April 30th forum, he suggested that those who want senatorial representation could move to another jurisdiction.

Derenge’s platform proposes making housing more affordable by shutting down the DC Housing Administration (DCHA) altogether. He proposes spending cuts by eliminating what he calls “special interest programs” such as violence interrupters, and reducing health disparities by not allowing certain unhealthy foods to be bought using Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Electronic Benefits Transfer (SNAP EBT).


Trayon White (D)
Trayon White is the incumbent candidate and has held Ward 8’s council seat since 2017. Before that, White was the Ward 8 representative on DC’s State Board of Education (SBOE). White attended Ballou High School and founded nonprofit Helping Inner City Kids Succeed (HICKS).

White has significant support, getting 58.2 percent of votes in the 2020 Democratic primary and 78.8 percent of votes in the 2020 general election. He stands on his record, citing his work on the Dream Grants and the Ward 8 Investment Fund, six new recreation centers delivered or in the works for the ward, a new senior center slated for Kramer Middle School and new businesses at Sycamore Oak. But to retain his seat, White will have to overcome bad press from several past controversies, including news that he owes about $80,000 in fines from past campaigns.

White says he wants to restore funding to emergency rental and home-purchase programs. He also plans to work to make housing more affordable, especially for seniors, expanding economic opportunities by increasing financial literacy and making Department of Parks and Recreation facilities easier to rent by residents.

No website at press time.

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