Wendell Felder, a millennial and political maven, rose to the top of the Ward 7 council race, accumulating 22.9% of the vote. (Anthony Tilghman/The 番茄社区app)

As D.C. Board of Elections continues to tally votes from the 2024 D.C. Primary Election, Wendell Felder stands out as the clear winner in the Ward 7 D.C. Council race and the successor to D.C. Councilmember Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7). 

Felder, chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 7D, accumulated 400 more votes than Ebony Payne and Eboni-Rose Thompson. After accumulating a significant lead over the seven other candidates on election night, Felder, Payne, and Thompson hashed it out over the next two days. 

Thompson, a third-place winner, inched closer to Payne, with less than 10 votes between them as of the evening of June 6. By that time, Felder expanded his lead, accumulating 100 more votes over Payne, his ANC colleague, since the first totals started rolling in on Election Night. 

On Thursday night, Felder took to Instagram in acknowledgement of this development. 

鈥淭his victory is a testament to your support and belief in our community,鈥 Felder鈥檚 Instagram post said. 鈥 I am deeply grateful for your trust and commitment鈥 As we move forward, I will continue engaging with residents and working tirelessly towards a united Ward 7 for the November election. Our journey has just begun, and together we will address our challenges and ensure every voice is heard.鈥 

Per DCBOE, less than 25% of the Ward 7 electorate submitted ballots during the election season, which means that less than 12,000 residents participated in what鈥檚 been deemed the most consequential race for Ward 7 in two decades. Payne dominated in the four precincts located in the western part of the ward, while Thompson took five precincts and Felder took the remaining 14 precincts, many of which are located in the center of the ward. 

As reported in a previous Informer story, the Ward 7 Democrats, from which Felder took a leave of absence earlier this year to run for D.C. Council, will host a unity breakfast as a means of bringing the 10 council candidates and their supporters together. 

Throughout the election season, Ward 7 D.C. Council candidates — Felder, Payne, Thompson, Veda Rasheed, Kelvin Brown, Nate Fleming, Roscoe Grant, Jr., Villareal Johnson, Denise Reed, and Ebbon Allen — participated in a series of candidate forums while putting their feet to the pavement throughout the ward. 

Though each of them amassed support among their base, candidates secured 11th-hour endorsements. 

D.C. Councilmember Christina Henderson (I-At large), and D.C. State Board of Education Representatives Jacque Patterson (At-large) and Frazier O鈥檒eary (Ward 4) threw their support behind Thompson, while Payne rode the wave of federal-level endorsements from 15 congresspeople, including Reps. Jesus 鈥淐huy鈥 Garcia (D-Ill.), Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), and Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.). 

However, it was Felder鈥檚 endorsements that proved more potent. Gray, D.C. Councilmembers Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), and Trayon White (D-Ward 8), along with former D.C. Councilmember Yvette Alexander and former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams expressed their support for Felder. 

Shortly after Gray’s May 17 endorsement, Opportunity D.C., a political voice for District employers and small businesses, threw its support behind Felder. Felder also had a supporter in D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), who showed up at his election night watch party at D.C. Capitol Square Bar & Grill on East Capitol Street in Northeast and offered her congratulations. 

鈥淗e ran a competitive race. There鈥檚 certainly a lot of energy [with] people from all over Ward 7 here,鈥 Bowser told reporters on Tuesday night. 

During his run, Felder circulated the Ward 7 Recovery Plan, which focuses on a ward-wide, community-driven development strategy created in collaboration with the Office of Planning and Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development. Other focal points included: the establishment of a Ward 7 Business Incubator Fund; stronger ties between contractors and small businesses; the development of a new middle school; and the introduction of legislation that requires the D.C. Department of Transportation to gain community input for infrastructure development projects. 

In a statement, Malcom Fox, executive director of Opportunity DC, extolled Felder鈥檚 victory and that of Pinto and White, who were also up for re-election. For Fox, Felder represents a voter-friendly, even-keeled approach to governing that prioritizes the needs of  the District鈥檚 business community. 

鈥淎s an advisory neighborhood commissioner with a strong background in public service, healthcare and higher education, Felder鈥檚 practical vision for revitalizing Ward 7 resonates with voters,鈥 Fox said. 鈥淗is commitment for expanding the police cadet program and supporting small businesses aligns with Opportunity DC鈥檚 mission of promoting equitable economic growth and expanding entrepreneurial opportunities.鈥澛

Sam P.K. Collins has nearly 20 years of journalism experience, a significant portion of which he gained at The 番茄社区app. On any given day, he can be found piecing together a story, conducting...

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