The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


Gaston: Move Ward 8 forward, together

I'm Commissioner Darrell Gaston, and I'm currently serving my second term as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Ward 8 and Chairperson of ANC 8B. I'm running for the democratic nomination for DC Council in Ward 8, a seat currently held by Councilmember Marion Barry.

Photo from Darrell Gaston.

As a young man who grew up on welfare, I know we can do better creating a pathway that leads to self-sufficiency. Ward 8 is my home. I'm a product of this community and grew up in public housing. I know the value of home ownership and hard work.

My decision to run is not for fame and fortune, but to be a voice for my community. I am sick and tired of seeing residents routinely taken for granted under the current councilmember.

Ward 8 residents have been disserviced for generations. Barry's policies keep the poor content with the status quo and few services that actually improve their lives. Ward 8 residents are tough, strong, and resilient, and they deserve a real choice in this election. I intend to give them one.

When I was elected Commissioner, many people thought that I couldn't produce change. They said I was too young. We proved them all wrong. Over 100 adults transitioned off of welfare and are now working and becoming homeowners.

We held parents accountable for their children's education by focusing on wraparound services and challenging our neighborhood schools to be creative in finding new avenues to get parents involved. Parents also took advantage of GED classes.

We repaved 60% of our streets and replaced 40% of our sidewalks. Zoning changes helped fix vacant properties and converted them to affordable housing. We helped unemployed residents find work and mentored young people.

In the past 7 years under this councilmember, we have moved backward. Unemployment has doubled to over 30%. We added 16,000 new families to TANF, and 26,000 families now received food stamps.

This is not progress or success and our ward deserves better. I believe in helping people get on their feet, but we need to encourage our residents with opportunities to become successful, rather than dependent.

There is no better social program then a good paying job with benefits, and when elected, my top priority will be getting Ward 8 working again. The potential we have in Ward 8 is undeniable. If DC can build baseball stadiums and give millions to Marriott to build hotels, then we can invest in putting our 17,000 unemployed residents to work.

Under my leadership as ANC chair, we led the fight in getting people working again. We were creative by holding neighborhood businesses accountable to hire locally. When Giant food wanted a liquor license, we mandated that they not only hire community residents, but train them continuously so that our residents can build their skills in this ever-changing workforce. Guess what? They did.

Under the Barry leadership, this government has made it too easy for people to get public assistance and harder to get a job. We will change that! We have made a career out of telling people what they want to hear and not what they need to hear. What is missing in Ward 8 is a public servant who will stand on their morals and values and character.

During campaign season you see people you never saw before. It's easy to talk now with the cameras and lights glaring, but where were many of these same people when we had our neighborhood cleanups, rallies, and organized for jobs.

For me, this race is about a better Ward 8. I was born and raised here, and I owe it to my community to give back, to make sure that children and families now have a better shot than when I was coming up.

It's time to create opportunity, by focusing on rebuilding our communities. Join me, because together we can move Ward 8 forward. If you stand or walk in Ward 8, you see the potential of our waterfront destination at Poplar Point. You see a ward where schools are being renovated, potholes are being refilled, police officers are walking the beat keeping our communities safe, and amenities are being brought to Ward 8.

You see that the future of Ward 8 is in front of us. We are the backbone of DC, from historic Anacostia to Congress Heights, from Garfield to Washington Highlands, and from Knox Hill to Bellevue, history lives here. Our best days lie ahead, and that is why when we stand together, the possibilities of what we can achieve are endless. Will you help us?

Learn more at
Communicate at or 202-656-4043
Follow me on Twitter @darrellgastondc
Like me on Facebook

Darrell Gaston is a candidate for the DC Council from Ward 8. The views in this article are his and do not necessarily represent those of Greater Greater Washington. We invite all candidates running for the DC Council to share their views with our community, but reserve the right to edit posts to fit our content and format rules. If you are a candidate and would like to submit an article, please contact


Add a comment »

Great piece! I wonder though, has HE ever had a job since graduating from college? If his campaign is about helping get back to work, I'd want to support a candidate who has been employed- at least somewhere! :-)

by Tom A. on Jan 30, 2012 4:06 pm • linkreport

His job is a "consultant" as I have heard. Unfortunately they way our country works is nearly anyone can run up $30,000 in credit card debt pretty easy. Wouldn't wager that this is too far from the case.

The vagaries of politics are what many of DC's challengers seem to profess yet the granular, minutia of how and why job training programs, public housing, social promotion, etc. have devastated Ward 8 as we know it are completely lost on these well intended but ill prepared candidates.

I wish Mr. Gaston much luck.

by Where do they find these people? on Jan 30, 2012 5:21 pm • linkreport

@Tom, considering his age, I don't think having a "job" is a requirement for office.

I also think this is a nice campaign piece but there are a few problems with this anti-Barry approach.

1) I find it troubling that you are playing the Newt Gingrich card by essentially calling Barry the "food stamp CM." Barry is no more responsible for the poverty in our Ward than Obama is for the increased numbers of poor under his administration. Disagree?

2)Assuming the "we" you're talking about is the entire W8 ANC, are you saying that YOU were largely responsible for 60% of our streets being fixed and NOT the CM or mayor?

3)Every DC politician has promised to bring jobs to W8, I'm not sure I fully understand how you can do something that noone else has been able to do. At a event last year, even the Mayor stated that the new DHS would likely NOT employ most of the unemployed W8 residents..if at all (my take).

4)Although Barry isn't and hasn't been the head of gov't for quite some time, how is it that HE made it easier for people to get public assistance? I'm speaking from ignorance here but has he introduced some sort of legislation that helps accomplish this or something?

5)I agree that we will see many faces EOTR that we've never seen before. Honestly, I can say that this is the first time I've ever laid eyes on you.

6)There have always been a number of programs in our Ward. Part of the problem is that they aren't effective and also that many are unaware they exist.

7) It is counterintuitive and neck-jarring apopletic to say that schools are being renovated, pot holes filled, police on the beat et. al while at the same time suggesting that our ward has been stagnant or even regressed during the past 7 years. As a talking point, you should either resolve the contradiction or leave it out altogether.

All this to say, although I know it might seem that I'm only being antagonistic here, I have seen people make these same anti-Barry arguments only to fall flat. What you should do is focus on some real concrete stuff and leave the hyperbole aside. It won't win you the election..especially if you can't draw a distinction between the progress w8 has made during the past 10 or so years and how Barry has impreded progress.

It is no more "right" that you should blame barry for the poor than it is for Gingrich to blame the Pres.

Choosing a different approach might not be a bad idea

by HogWash on Jan 30, 2012 5:34 pm • linkreport

yet the granular, minutia of how and why job training programs, public housing, social promotion, etc. have devastated Ward 8 as we know it

The good thing is that you aren't running for office in W8 because you would have a hard time making that argument a convincing one. In fact, outside of the republican party, I don't think that the "gov't programs kills" mantra works well.

by HogWash on Jan 30, 2012 5:42 pm • linkreport

@Tom A. and Where do they find these people?:

Before one jumps out there with assumptions and misleading information, you should at least do your homework. Just a little. He works at the DC Dept. of Youth Rehabilitation Services, not to mention a 2-time elected ANC Commissioner and was just reelected by his fellow commissioners as Chair of ANC 8B. You could have went to his facebook page to find that out. At least respect this young brother, who is only 25y/o, for wanting to make a positive change for our community while still in his youth.

I believe this election will show whether Ward 8 residents have a true commitment to the youth in our communities. This will be our chance to break from the past of scandal and dependency to a future of more opportunities for all (not a select few) and self-sufficiency. I support this young man and I hope others will give him that consideration as well.

by Anthony Lorenzo on Jan 30, 2012 8:34 pm • linkreport

Yah spend the subsidies for the baseball stadium and the hotel on subsidizing 17K people in Ward 8. Just what I want with my tax dollars.

by jdollop on Jan 30, 2012 10:53 pm • linkreport

I think this was a very good post, thank you for this.

I also think there was a lot of value to what HogWash posted as well.

by H Street Landlord on Jan 31, 2012 12:33 am • linkreport

@Anthony Lorenzo

He is in my network and we have mutual friends, no employment information is listed...

by funInSun52 on Jan 31, 2012 7:41 am • linkreport

Seemingly wellspoken. A little naieve but that isn't a disqualifer but lets be honest here, lack of educational, welfare assistance and job training programs in DC and Ward 8 isn't now, nor has been in short supply over the past 3 decades and has nothing to do with the poverty and unemployment rate in Ward 8.

Stay away from the ladies of leisure on K Street and somehow figure out how to crack the unbeatable patina Barry wears over Ward 8 and he might have a chance.

by freely on Jan 31, 2012 9:20 am • linkreport

...and somehow figure out how to crack the unbeatable patina Barry wears over Ward 8 and he might have a chance.

No truer words ever spoken. And this has been my point for years now. It's easy to launch a campaign filled with ant-Barry'ness. We all know he's old and needs to retire and has long stopped being the best representative for our ward. But knowing how big that "patina" is and how to tap into that is not as easy...which is why I believe all Barry contenders have failed.

Sadly, I imagine this is also the case this time around and Barry will likely win...


by HogWash on Jan 31, 2012 9:59 am • linkreport

"There is no better social program then a good paying job with benefits, and when elected, my top priority will be getting Ward 8 working again. "

I think this is definitely the best strategy to take because the employment situation in Ward 8 is terrible despite progress in other areas. That and schools. What would be great is if we could hear some reasonable proposals that display Darrell's knowledge and ability to start to think like a legislator.

I don't think Gaston is going to define his campaign by being negative against Barry, at least I hope not. And if people try to spin his platform as if that's his approach, than he needs to do what it takes to control his message. Barry definitely has some negatives that we all know about but there's a point at which his endearing nature wins out. I know very little about Gaston, but I think a smart and young guy who is positive but also fearless and candid about the faults that exist within government and the people can put up a good fight against Barry.

by Vik on Jan 31, 2012 10:33 am • linkreport

All the best to Mr. Gaston. He reminds me of a young Nicholas Wasicsko.

by Rayful Edmond on Jan 31, 2012 1:49 pm • linkreport

Call DYRS and they do not know who he is. And if he were it's against the law to work for a govt agency and run for office. Also those close in his circle state he has not worked in years. I'm glad to see Mr. Gaston finally get favorable press after roasting CongressHeightsOnTheRise's owner Nikki Peele's wig. After calling Jacque Patterson a "non-relevant factor" a la Basketball Wives I thought Darrell would have to fight to get some press. Also I believe more energy should be placed into campaigning than Twitter accounts impersonating bloggers. I am awaiting for that account of me to be deleted sir. And as always it is a pleasure seeing ward 8's Monica Lewinski making a presence here. Wipe your chin so it doesn't ruin your keyboard love.

by VonniMediaMogul on Jan 31, 2012 8:46 pm • linkreport

What I think really should have occured is that his story should have gone un-edited to show his 5th grade honors program writing ability.

by VonniMediaMogul on Jan 31, 2012 9:06 pm • linkreport

Mr. Gaston does work for the government. He has stepped down from his position from the agency. DYRS has several departments within the agency. We in Ward 8 are very happy that you love Mr. Gaston enough to continue try to slander his name. I wonder where u live?

by Ward 8 Voter on Jan 31, 2012 9:51 pm • linkreport

Is it true ANC 8B, under Chairman Gaston's leadership, spent close to $20,000 on telephone services last year? I'm not sure I'm comfortable with electing a council member who cannot responsibly manage an ANC budget.

VonniMediaMogul, is it true you work with a campaign manager of a candidate running against Darrel? Can you please identify that individual?

by Garfield Heights Residence on Jan 31, 2012 10:58 pm • linkreport

@Vonnie, If Gatson is 25, what sort of work history do you expect him to have..or anyone else that age? That's not to say that people his age "shouldn't" have a history of work, but many just don' least enough to justify what we "think" are requirements for a political office. So I don't get what his work history has to do w/much of anything here.

I'm assuming you're suggesting that Gatson is getting "positive" press somewhere other than here because his posting doesn't serve as an example of him receiving positive or negative press. Rather, it's just him making a campaign announcement. Whatever issues he's had with CHTOR and JP clearly hasn't made enough "news" to warrant you even discussing it here. Maybe it's a topic w/in the small group of w8 politicos?

@GHeights, although I have no concept of how much commercial telecommunications cost but I agree that 20g's is indeed a lot of money. But I'm also not sure if that's the best example of why people should cosign your obvious attack on Gatson. I think it would serve your purpose much better if you came forward with something having a bit more meat like...he spent 20g's on a car (Audi), clothes, dining, payoffs or something that he personally benefited from. At this point, it's like saying that he spent 20g's on rent.

Oh...uhm..ok..and that's all you got?

by HogWash on Feb 1, 2012 11:38 am • linkreport

@HogWash, 20 grand is alot of money when it is being spent on cell phones and ipads. We are not talking about the money paying for an ANC office phone, but about people using it to get out paying for a cell phone bill. I don't know what you mean by serving my purpose. My purpose is to speak the truth.

His commission was given 52 grand. The expenses for his Commission? $22 grand. Of that 22, close to 19 went to "telephone services." So here is your math lesson, HogWash. ANC 8B spent about 86% of its total expenses on telephone services. Does that sound like a well run ship? Clearly, the Captain has led you and other folks astray. Commissions should be awarding grants and helping folks out with the most local issues. Vote No Candidate this time around.

by Garfield Heights Resident on Feb 1, 2012 1:32 pm • linkreport

@Garfield Resident & Hog Washington, Mr. Gaston did not spend 20k on cells phone. The story Should be corrected. The report which link is listed below was for dc fiscal year 2010 and Mr. Gaston was not chair in 2010. Mr. Hawkins was chair, in fact Mr Gaston was elected chair in 2011. So Here is the fact that Garfield Resident and Vonnie just arent telling you, Mr. Gaston was not chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8B during 2010.

@HogWash Lets continue FACT Checking, looking at the DC Auditor report which link is here proves that the audit was for 2010 though it was published in 2011.

@Vonnie it was not 18k that was paid, it was a double payment that was made, and in return ANC 8B recieved upwards of 6 months of free service. So lets not mislead the public.

I am very surprise at how so many ppl who do not live in Ward 8, better yet live in MD like Vonnie are trying to slander this young man.

@Garfield Hill Resident - it is true that Vonnie works with Jacque Patterson Campaign Manager and in fact sits right next to him. Mr. Vonnie talks about hatch act, Mr. vonnie and Jacques Campaign manager gets paid from a DC Gov contract awarded from the Dept of Health. So Mr. Jacque campaign manager is violating the hatch act.

So finally, we know if you read the DC Auditor 2010 report of all ANCs and know that Mr. Gaston was elected Chair of ANC 8B in Jan 2011 and again Jan 2012, how can Mr. Gaston be held responsible for another chairman's issue. I just seen a post from Mr. Gaston on the Ward 8 facebook group that talks about his accomplishments that took place under his watch as chair of anc8b. The report can be read here

So lets continue to have a spirited conversation that list facts and fiction, truth and not lies.

by Actually ANC 8B Resident. on Feb 1, 2012 5:19 pm • linkreport


Mr Gaston cannot spend any dollars that the Commission does not approve. The ANC 8B works with 7 Commissioners. If Mr. Gaston does not want the commission to do something, it takes 4 commissioners or more to make something happen. So in 2010 under Mitchel Hawkins watch, at least 4 commissioners agreed to whatever actions took place during that fiscal year.

by Actually ANC 8B Resident on Feb 1, 2012 5:22 pm • linkreport

I am not an elected official so none of those incorrect details matter. I do however appreciate your continued interest in me :)

by VonniMediaMogul on Feb 1, 2012 5:31 pm • linkreport

Mr Gaston was not the chairman at that time in 2010. I must piggyback on Hogwash. If you're going to make accusations like that, you must have proof...especially when claims are made about actions taken place under another 8B chairman's leadership.

P.S. I am an ANC 8B resident (8B04).

by Anthony Lorenzo on Feb 1, 2012 10:26 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

You can use some HTML, like <blockquote>quoting another comment</blockquote>, <i>italics</i>, and <a href="http://url_here">hyperlinks</a>. More here.

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.


Support Us