WASHINGTON -- Marion Barry (D), the former District of Columbia mayor and current Ward 8 councilmember, is the highest-rated elected local official in the nation's capital. That's according to a recent Washington Post poll of 1,002 D.C. adults taken July 15-17.
Barry, who served four terms as D.C. mayor and was infamously arrested for crack cocaine use and possession in 1990 during a sting operation at D.C.'s Vista Hotel, had a 52-percent approval rating according to the poll.
As local political consultant Chuck Thies writes in his NBCWashington.com column, the Post, which focused its attention on the favorability fortunes of current Mayor Vincent Gray (D) in relaying the bigger takeaways from the poll, "failed to report this revelation" about Barry.
Barry, no stranger to controversy and personal missteps, has stayed largely free of the recent political turmoil involving the D.C. government which has seen the mayor's 2010 campaign under investigation and resignations by Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) and Chairman Kwame Brown (D) amid separate probes by the U.S. attorney's office.
What does Barry’s supremacy say about the state of the District?
Eighty-one percent of blacks view him favorably. Meanwhile, a scant 7 percent of whites have a favorable opinion of him.
In other words, Barry is a polarizing figure. But we did not need a Post poll to tell us that.
More significantly, the poll reveals the failure of city leaders to capture the attention --let alone imagination-- of District residents.
If the political environment in D.C. is going to improve and positive changes are to be sustained, one or several politicians must supplant Barry -- the living embodiment of the old guard -- at the top of the heap and stay there.
According to the poll's recent findings, former Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) had a net favorability of 57 percent while Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) had 72 percent favorability.
Gray, who has been dogged by an ongoing corruption scandal from his 2010 campaign, had a net favorability rating of 34 percent. Fifty-four percent indicated the current mayor should resign.