DC Mayoral Debate: Who won?

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- WUSA9 hosted the DC Mayoral debate on Wednesday night in D.C. Four candidates, Vincent Gray, Muriel Bowser, Jack Evans and Tommy Wells participated in the debate.

Bruce Johnson moderated the debate. Some of the issues covered in the debate included Mayor's alleged 'shadow campaign', education in the District, permanent housing for the homeless, high cost of living, speed cameras, DC Fire and EMS, and the issue regarding a recent AMBER alert.

Howard University's Dr. Lorenzo Morris watched the debate. He said, "There were no clear cut winners. If anyone benefited it was probably Mayor Gray simply because most of the attention was focused on him tonight. If voters came into the debate in favor of one candidate, it's unlikely they were swayed to the direction of another candidate. If anything, voters were either cemented in their support for a candidate or turned away from the election all together because of the hostility between the candidates."

WATCH FULL DEBATE: DC Debate: Now or Never

Nearly 4,000 people voted in our WUSA9 poll, and viewers say Tommy Wells won the debate:

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Here's our live blog from the debate earlier on WUSA9:


WUSA9's Bruce Johnson kicked off the debate asking about the campaigning. Why haven't you been able to close the deal?

Bowser: I think we will close the deal April 1. We are very confident…and we have seen great growth in our campaign over the last couple of months.

Bruce Johnson: You seem to be stuck at 27% how do you increase?

Gray: Up until a couple of months ago we were up by 8 points. People are satisfied with this administration.

Wells: We are moving.

Evans: In the current newspapers we received endorsement, we are very excited about that, the poll I am looking at….there are so many undecided voters right now. It is unfortunate how this race is being categorized. It should be vote for the best candidate.
Bruce Johnson to Mayor Gray: What took place between you and Jeff Thompson?

Gray: I have explained in many times. All people have to do is go to the WUSA website. I did nothing. I said over and over again. There was no wrong doing involved in my part. All I can do is repeat what I said.I never asked Jeff Thompson for $400,000. I can't be any more direct than that.

Bruce Johnson asked the candidates to comment on that? Who do you believe?

Bowser: I do believe Ron Machen has presented a lot of information. He has secured a lot of convictions related to a corrupt campaign and I think it is going to be up to….him. Eveyrthing that has been put on the record…the facts have been put out there. It stands to reason.

Evans: You are innocent until proven guilty.

Gray: They want my job.

Evans: They have no qualifications to be mayor on their own. The mayor and I are qualified to be mayor.

Bruce Johnson asked what do you think of the plea bargain that Jeff Thompson got?

Bowser: Certainly, whether the mayor will be charged or indicted. It is likely that he is going to be indicted. If you believe the polls, this is what we know, people know all the allegations…and still they say they don't trust this Mayor. If we are to get beyond the scandal, what residents of DC said is they want a fresh start.

Bruce Johnson asked what will you do if you win the primary?

Gray: I am going to continue to see this through.

Gray: We had to balance the budget on the basis of furloughs. Look at where we are today. That did not come from Adrian Fenty. We have added 1 billion dollars to the bank account.

Bruce Johnson asked regarding the issue of race and Marion Barry endorsement:

Gray: First of all, Marion has its own views. I have always been a person who wanted to bring people together.

Evans: I got elected largely from Dupont circle area…we have been able to bring together everyone in a ward which was very diverse.

Johnson asked regarding the 14th street revitalization. It is very impressive but the percentage of African Americans is still very small in restaurants.

Bowser: There is great anxiety. As we grow there are many people who cannot grow with the district of Columbia. We should not ignore that question. What we should do is re-double our efforts to make sure we are continuing to attract young families.


Johnson asked regarding the high cost of living.

Bowser: I support building homes, not re-creating DC General, that is what you will get from Vincent Gray.


Bruce Johnson asked about the AMBER Alert regarding the missing 8-year-old girl from DC. Did the alert go out on time?

Gray: Our deputy mayor said it did.

Wells: He initially said it was all done correctly and said it was a learning experience. This is not the time to focus blame, we need to focus on Relisha.

Bowser: There are a lot of people like Relisha who need our attention.


Bruce Johnson asked about the homeless situation in DC.

Evans: (I would) put them into housing (after assessment)

Bowser: Our plan is certainly, we need to speed up the production of permanent housing for the homeless.

Gray: In terms of producing permanent housing, we committed ourselves to 10,000 by 2020. The problem is often times not getting these people into permanent housing...It's also a question of putting in place those things that will keep them there.


Bruce Johnson asked about key people in the administration. Would you keep D.C. Fire Chief Ellerbe?

Wells: He would not be in my administration.

Gray: I think the Chief has done some good things.

Evans: There are a lot of good people in our government that I would keep.

Bowser: I think people have lost confidence in our Fire Chief.


Bruce Johnson asked about education and a longer school day. All candidates agreed.


Bruce Johnson asked about city services in DC. Residents tell us that getting around can be difficult.

Evans: Reduce (speed camera) fines by $50.

Gray: I reduced the fines. That already has been done.

Wells: Our roads have been in terrible shape. We have not made new investment in public transit.

Bowser: What I will commit to, is if we have speed cameras, it will be in the right place.

Bruce Johnson asked the candidates if they have received a speeding ticket?

Wells: I witnessed a situation a year ago. There was a woman who was hit by a car on Florida Avenue. We put a traffic light in there and a camera and we have a much safer street as a result of this. This is about public safety.


Bruce Johnson asked who else they would vote for other than themselves?

Gray: I look at what we have done. This city is phenomenally further along. I will continue to move this city forward.

Evans: We are running a 12 billion dollar operation....Other than mayor Gray and myself, there is nobody who could be mayor in this race.

Bowser: It is interesting because people rarely ask him that question because he is not a young and woman like I am. We have the experience, what is telling, and what voters are telling us is that we have the right experience.


Bruce Johnson asked about a recent article in Washington Post regarding Bowser.

Bowser: Women judge women the most harshly. What we have done every day for the last seven years is we go out and talk to everybody. What that article also said is that we are growing and we have room to grow.

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RAW VIDEO: What would you change about DC?


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