If the polls are to be believed, Andy Shallal doesn't have a very good chance of becoming mayor. But standing outside Shepherd Elementary School in Ward 4 this afternoon, the owner of Busboys and Poets said he's not giving up just yet.
"There are a lot of undecideds walking to the polls, which I find interesting this late in the game," he said. "I think people have been tuned out to this election, and I think they've certainly been tuned out to the issues. They've been tuned in to the scandal that we've all been confronted with, that the city been held hostage with. But we haven't been really focusing on the serious issues that affect people."
Low turnout has been reported in polling places across the city.
Shallal says that he hopes voters vote their conscience, instead of voting with whoever they think can win. The issue of strategic voting has come up in polls, as Muriel Bowser has emerged as the leading challenger to Gray. Still, Shallal and fellow progressive candidate Tommy Wells have been urging supporters to follow their hearts.
"There's a lot of math that people have to figure out in their head before they make a decision today, so we're hoping that they listen to their heart and make the right decision because I believe I will bring the city together in a whole different way than anyone else who's running for office," he said.
The restaurateur concedes that his options are limited, but he didn't swear off remaining in politics if he loses. He also said that he wants the city's next leader to put more emphasis on the issue he has focused on: inequality.
"I want people to recognize that inequality is not something that should be normal," he said. "This city is rich, we have a lot of resources. We don't have the willpower or vision to fix the things that are wrong with the city."