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Mendelson And Orange Race For D.C. Council Chair

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Two D.C. councilmembers are vying to replace Kwame Brown as D.C. Council Chairman.
Mallory Noe-Payne
Two D.C. councilmembers are vying to replace Kwame Brown as D.C. Council Chairman.

The field has narrowed to two candidates to replace Kwame Brown as D.C. Council Chairman: At-large council members Phil Mendelson and Vincent Orange.

Sporting a bright orange striped tie, Councilmember Orange looked and sounded as if he was in full campaign mode at City Hall on Monday. And while Wednesday's vote to select an interim council chair will be held by council members, not the voters, Orange didn't hesitate to launch some public criticism at Mendelson.

"There's some differences between Mr. Mendelson and myself," says Orange. "I am a strong proponent of educational reform. He's voted against educational reform, as you know. I am a strong proponent of Emancipation Day, Mr. Mendelson voted against the establishment of a public holiday."

Orange went on, detailing other issues he has with his opponent.

But Mendelson didn't fire back. He says the last thing anyone wants is councilmembers finger-pointing at each other.

"This is a time when members of the council need to pull together," says Mendelson. "We are not well-served if we get bogged down in criticizing each other. It's not what the institution needs, and certainly not what the public wants."

Regardless of who takes over as interim chair, both men say they plan to run in November's special election for chairman, and that's when the fireworks really could fly.

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