Reflections from 1997: Croft for City Council

Longtime DSA member Howard Croft, who died of COVID-19 in June, ran for DC Council in 1997.  This article by then-local chair Pleasant Mann provides a concise overview of Croft’s accomplishments up to that point and the vision he brought to the race for the Ward 6 seat.  Although he was not elected, he brought a socialist vision to the race and, as this article shows, assembled an impressive coalition of progressive groups and activists as the foundation of his campaign.  As we approach yet another local election – one in which Metro-DC DSA is again deeply involved --  we can look on our current electoral work as a continuation of the active role DSA has played in regional politics over the past four decades.

A number of local DSA members offered their remembrances of Howard in the July issue of the Socialist.

-- Bill Mosley

DSA Endorses Croft for City Council

by Pleasant Mann

On February 20, the DC/MD/NOVA DSA Local Executive Board endorsed Howard Croft in the Ward 6 city council election.  The special election, scheduled for April 29, will fill the council seat vacated by Harold Brazil when he moved to an At-Large seat on the City Council.

In endorsing Howard Croft, the board noted his over three decades of political activism for popular empowerment, starting with the Civil Rights movement.  As a resident of the District of Columbia, Croft has worked with organizations like DSA, the New Party and Americans for Democratic Action to push a progressive agenda in the District.  He has played a prominent role in key points in the city’s history from the founding of Ward Six Democrats to the District’s State Constitutional Convention.  As long-time chair of the Urban Affairs and Geography Department at the University of the District of Columbia, Croft brings a level of experience to the City Council like no one else.

Croft’s bid comes at an important point for Ward 6 and the city as a whole.  Encompassing some of the most politically sophisticated parts of the District, Ward 6 has been represented by either unresponsive or mentally incompetent councilmembers in the past.  The issues of crime, education, economic development, transportation and even solid waste removal have a particular resonance in this part of the city.  The fact that recent extensions of the District’s Hatch Act required Croft to leave his position at the University of the District of Columbia in order to run for City Council, points out the work that still has to be done before the city starts to have the sovereignty taken for granted in the rest of the country.  (For comparison, Parris Glendening, the Governor of Maryland, is still a member of the University of Maryland faculty.)

The breadth of the Croft campaign was evident at the February 1 announcement of his candidacy.  The audience of over 100 activists included not only Benjamin Bonham, the recently elected Ward 6 representative to the DC School Board, but also leaders of DSA, the Gertrude Stein Club, New Party, Ward Six Democrats and the DC Democratic State Committee.

The DSA Local will sponsor a fundraiser for the Croft campaign on Wednesday, April 9.

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