WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Phil Mendelson's no showboat, but the DC councilmember's mild-mannered persona may be just what most of his colleagues are looking for in a new DC Interim Council Chair. Scandals have driven two other councilmembers from office this year.
Councilmembers vote Wednesday to replace now convicted felon Kwame Brown. By some estimates, Mendelson already has a majority wrapped up. The interim chair will serve until the city can hold a special election.
The Elections Board just announced that special election will be in November, the same day as the vote for President.
"The council right now is hurting," says Mendelson. "We've betrayed the public trust, we need to rebuild the public trust. Things need to calm down. We need some stability. I think I can bring that to the council."
Vincent Orange is still trying to convince his fellow councilmembers that he's the stronger leader. "If you look at my record compared to Mr. Mendelson's, you'll see the majority of the time, he's on the losing side of a 10 to 2, or 12 to 1 vote. I'm generally in the majority."
Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander says some of her constituents are worried about race. But she suspects Mendelson already has a majority of seven strong votes wrapped up. "(Race) is always an issue to be frank, but I think in this instance it's who's been in the community." And Phil Mendelson has been in the community? "He has been."
If he has the votes, Phil Mendelson would become only the second white DC Council Chairman ever, and he could potentially become the first white mayor since the dawn of home rule in 1973.
"Does it matter in a majority black city that you are white?" I asked him. "It shouldn't," he replied, "but yes, that's still an issue for many people."
The Council Chair would become Mayor should a long running federal investigation force Vincent Gray from office. Mendelson's ambitious, but he says he does not want to climb the ladder with another scandal. "I truly hope that doesn't happen. This government doesn't need that. This citizens of DC don't need that."
Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
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