There are few things the four candidates for the Ward One council seat agree on, but there’s one thing for sure: when asked which mayoral candidate they each endorse, all four candidates claimed to be undecided at this point.
At the Ward One Candidates Forum on Tuesday, all four candidates stated their cases for representing the ward after the upcoming election.
Jim Graham (D) spent the entirety of his five minutes as most incumbents do, listing his accomplishments since his first election in 1998. Specifically he listed the following:
- that he secured funding for the beautification of Anna J. Cooper Circle in 2003;
- that he supported the Mary Church Terrell House project;
- that he got the 400 block of T Street named Walter Washington Way, after the LeDroit resident who was also DC’s first elected mayor;
- that he was “part of the neighborhood mobilization” in response to the robberies at the LeDroit Park Market several years back;
- that he was able to get the city to restore and renovate the Williston Apartments at 236 W Street into affordable housing apartments;
- that he has helped get city money for the Howard Theatre for its pending revitalization;
- that he has secured tax abatement legislation to get UNCF to move to Shaw, despite others’ objections to the use of tax abatement to lure development; and
- that he supported from the start the effort to turn the now-demolished Gage-Eckington School into something other than an abandoned building.
During the question and answer session, Mr. Graham also stated his support for school vouchers.
When asked about small-business set-asides for city contracts, Mr. Graham expressed his disappointment with the lack of enforcement. The problem, he stated, was not with the laws, but rather with their enforcement.
Marc Morgan (R), a resident of LeDroit Park, announced his love of the neighborhood and focused a good deal of attention on crime and small business development. He asked how many people feel safe walking around at night. He said he wants to facilitate the improvement of the District’s small businesses, which serve as the best sources of local employment.
Mr. Morgan also announced his environmental credentials and the importance of reducing carbon footprints. Throughout much of the question and answer session, Mr. Morgan touted the value of leveraging public-private partnerships to accomplish various worthy tasks, such as environmental protection and energy conservation. When asked if he had held elected office before, Mr. Morgan responded that he had owned a chain of restaurants in Ohio and Arizona and that he served as an environmental official in Ehrlich Administration in Maryland.
Jeff Smith (D) brought photos and graphs for his speech, which he started with the complaint that Ward One has become less green and over-developed. He didn’t hesitate to mention that one of Councilmember Graham’s top staff members had been indicted on corruption charges and that the Metro, under Mr. Graham’s continuing tenure on the WMATA board, has suffered a catastrophic crash and subsequent loss of public confidence.
Mr. Smith held up graphs illustrating that Ward One leads the city in robberies and thefts and a graph comparing proficiency ratings for DC public school students versus their counterparts in Maryland and Virginia.
Beyond graphs, Mr. Smith also held up photos of various blighted spots in Ward One that he claims languish despite the glitz in Columbia Heights and U Street. The crumbling Howard Theatre was one of them.
Mr. Smith expressed cautious support of Michelle Rhee and charter schools. When asked how he would pay for his plans, he trotted out the usual response of better management of existing funds.
The evening’s final candidate was Bryan Weaver (D), who is currently an ANC commissioner in Adams Morgan. Mr. Weaver started off announcing that his campaign’s theme was to bring accountability and oversight to the District government, a hot topic lately. He criticized DCPS for improperly assigning teachers and called nearby Cardozo High School the “school of least resistance,” by which he meant the dumping ground of problem children. Nonetheless, he praised Michelle Rhee for making “great progress” and he cautioned residents to be patient about school reform.
Regarding the city’s falling revenues, he said that we need to restructure the District’s tax code and rethink how the city does business. He brought up the recent park construction fracas as a prime example of waste.
Weaver was the only candidate of the evening to express the concern that Ward One is headed for a widening income gap and that we would become a ward of the well-off and the poor.
What issues matter to you the most?
All four candidates for the Ward One council seat will speak on Tuesday night at the Ward One Candidates Forum in LeDroit Park. Candidates will speak to and take questions from the public. Everyone is encouraged to attend.
The candidates for office are Jim Graham (D), Marc Morgan (R), Jeff Smith (D), and Brian Weaver (D). Messrs Graham, Smith, and Weaver will compete for the Democratic nomination in September. Mr. Morgan is running unopposed for the Republican nomination so he will face the Democratic nominee in November.
Ward One Candidates Forum
Presented by the LeDroit Park Civic Association
Tuesday, June 22 at 7pm
Basement of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church
623 Florida Ave NW – enter at the back on U Street