September 10th, 2011 | City

Bethea takes Ward 2 by storm, rhythmically

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Photo by Alon Harish.

Like many local elections this year, the race for Ward 2 alderman has become increasingly intense heading into Tuesday’s primary. But Saturday afternoon, it was also loud.

Douglas Bethea, a street outreach worker who is running against Trumbull dining hall cook Frank Douglass, led a percussion march through the neighborhood abutting Yale’s western edge. The roaring drums that woke many off-campus Yale students from their afternoon naps were played by members of Bethea’s youth program, the Nation Drill Squad and Drum Corps.

The march was an effort to remind members of the Dwight neighborhood what Bethea has done for its youth, many of whom face unemployment and are threatened with one of the city’s highest concentrations of crime. The award-winning squad, which Bethea started 22 years ago, is Bethea’s way of making sure kids have “something good to do.”

“I wanted to show people the lives I’m saving, and also have a little fun while campaigning,” he said.

After the march, which covered the entire ward between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., Bethea gave the 110 members of his squad a cookout at his Goffe Street home. While Bethea said the march itself was not intended to be political, he did use it to distinguish himself from Douglass, who has focused his campaign on labor issues and has union backing.

“[Douglass's] got the unions, I got the community,” Bethea said. “Being an alderman is about community.”

Democrats registered in Ward 2 can pick between Bethea and Douglass on Tuesday at the Troup School at 259 Edgewood Ave.