A Ward 8 commissioner and the n-word: A full account

On the day Mary Cuthbert called political opponent Larry Pretlow a “dumb nigger,” she was sitting on her friend’s porch in a lawn chair. Pretlow had been canvassing on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and says he asked to enter through the front-yard after reaching Cynthia McCoy’s residence.


Larry Pretlow collects signatures to get his name on the ballot for ANC commissioner. (Photo courtesy Larry Pretlow)

The candidate noticed his rival Cuthbert, whom he is challenging for a seat on a Ward 8 advisory neighborhood commission. No matter — Pretlow went forward all the same, not wanting to miss a campaign “opportunity.”

The 21-year-old passed through the gate, walked onto the front porch, and started on his pitch: He was a Strayer University IT major with a 4.0, a Ward 7 native, president of the National Youth Rights Association D.C. chapter; he would do great things for the community…

Cuthbert expressed her displeasure with the intrusion by interrupting him throughout his presentation. Sitting beneath some dangling flower pots, McCoy asked Pretlow the million-dollar question: What made him different?

The candidate didn’t skip a beat:

“I’ll be a direct and proactive voice of the people.”

But he wasn’t finished.

“I won’t be a...,” he said, hesitating over the next noun, “a…”

His campaign manager came to the rescue. “Monarch,” she said.

Cuthbert, who has called a local resident “poor white trash” as well as threatened to “whup” another’s “ass,” then commanded McCoy not to sign the ANC candidate petition.

But the spunky Pretlow, who now has the 25 signatures he needs to get on the ballot, persisted.

“I just want to make sure you’re not choosing to sign because you’re friends with Mrs. Cuthbert,” he told McCoy.

That was enough for Cuthbert.

“Go away, you dumb nigger,” she growled, verbally shooing him off the porch.

Such was how Pretlow recalls the Sunday incident. Cuthbert, the 20-year incumbent of her local ANC office, a seat dedicated to neighborhood advocacy, has refused to respond to interview requests, including multiple calls and e-mails from this reporter.

McCoy claims the candidate never asked for permission to enter and also denies ever hearing Cuthbert drop the n-bomb.

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