D.C. Mayoral Candidates


The AFRO is presenting information on the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor of the District of Columbia.

 

Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), 71

Education: The George Washington University, B.S.; master's degree in Psychology

Elected to D.C. Council in 2004 (Ward 7). Elected mayor in 2010.

Endorsements: Laborers International Union of North America; D.C. Building Trades Council; Service Employees International Union for Maryland and D.C. State Council; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 20; UNITE HERE Local 25; D.C. Latino Caucus; and American Asian and Pacific Islanders Caucus.

Gray spoke to the AFRO in an interview Feb. 25. He responded to an interview request the same day.

Education:
We're really committed to education reform and I think we have made a lot progress and [are] moving forward with that. The District's measure of progress is [through] the [national] test scores that indicate we had the greatest progress of any state in December and showed the greatest progress of any of the big cities in America.

Affordable Housing:
[The Administration has] invested $187 million in affordable housing, funding 47 projects that will reduce cost of housing so people can afford it. [Projects are] happening where people most need affordable housing.

Peaceful coexistence between longtime and new residents:
[That is a] difficult challenge. One of the things is to make sure we make housing affordable [and] continue to improve public education. Having people increase earning capacity, better to move people from a place where their earning power may be low to a place where it can be raised. Create opportunities for people to work and live together. Use the office of the mayor to communicate the importance of people who have lived in the District for years to support those who have paid their dues to make the city what it is today.

Black opportunity:
The process of certifying small and medium [sized] disadvantaged businesses, and then they go to a list of businesses that are available. Businesses [are] put into contracts that require businesses to demonstrate how they have included a level of participation by the small and medium disadvantaged businesses.

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Council Member Vincent Orange (D-At Large), 56, Attorney/CPA

Education: University of the Pacific, Business Administration and Communications; Howard University, JD; Georgetown University, master's degree in Laws in Taxation

Elected to D.C. Council in 2010

Endorsements: United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, National Nurses United

Orange responded to the AFRO through e-mail Feb. 28.

Education:
I support, will invest in, and fund our public pipeline of education from pre-school through the University of the District of Columbia. We must provide the necessary resources to significantly improve the proficiency of our students in reading, writing and mathematics.

Affordable Housing:
My plan is to build $100 million [worth] of affordable housing each year, for the next 10 years. I will build affordable housing for seniors on fixed incomes, for the homeless, for the $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000 households, and for the traditional 80 percent of the area median income population. My plan is to build affordable housing for each category mentioned resulting in $250 million of affordable housing for each group. In addition, I will immediately build the affordable housing for low income families pursuant to the New Communities Initiative.

Peaceful coexistence between longtime and new residents:
I will travel around our beloved city, and through our beloved city, host community and neighborhood town hall meetings stressing diversity and commonality. I will strongly welcome and encourage our new residents to live peacefully and in harmony with our older residents and to respect the institutions and traditions of our city.

Black opportunity:
I will work with Black companies to assist them in qualifying for certification as a District Certified Business Enterprise and qualifying as a local small business. As Mayor, I will ensure that all District agency heads are spending public dollars pursuant to District law with our local small business community and that our public/private construction projects are providing 35 percent of the contracts to District certified business enterprises. The District taxpayer dollars must circulate in our community, throughout our community and around our community pursuant to the law and not outside the boundaries of the District of Columbia.

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Council Member Muriel Bowser (Ward 4), 42, Politician

Education: Chatham College, bachelor's degree in History; American University, master's degree in Public Policy

First elected to the D.C. Council in 2006

Endorsements: The Washington Post

Bowser's campaign manager responded to the AFRO by e-mail the same day answers were requested.

Education:
As mayor, Muriel Bowser will encourage neighborhood preference for charter schools so charters serve their purpose as a real option to traditional public schools; provide additional resources to under-performing schools, so we can speed up and spread out successful school reforms; expand early childhood programs so all of our children are ready to learn on the first day they enter kindergarten; and deliver real career and technical education so district youth are prepared to enter the workforce.

Affordable Housing:
Muriel Bowser believes that we must have mixed income development and ensure that low- and moderate-income families and individuals do not get priced out of D.C. As mayor, she will create more affordable units, preserve more of our existing affordable housing, and help our residents to afford more housing through job training and higher wages.

Peaceful coexistence between longtime and new residents:
Muriel Bowser welcomes the newcomers who have arrived and those who or are planning to move to D.C. over the next few years, and she looks forward to having them join our long-term residents in our many churches, public schools, community groups, and neighborhoods. Community activities, such as block parties, open houses, meetings, etc. are excellent opportunities for neighbors to get to know each other in a non-confrontational way.

Black opportunity:
Muriel Bowser wants to re-focus the Department of Small and Local Business so they do more than just certify businesses. She will have the agency take a more active role in connecting businesses to D.C. government contracts, and she will make sure that all regulations are enforced.

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Council Member Jack Evans (Ward 2), 59, Attorney

Education: University of Pennsylvania, B.S.; University of Pittsburgh, School of Law, JD

Elected to the D.C. Council in 1991

Endorsements: Maryland/D.C. State Council of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, The George Washington University College Democrats

Evans answered two questions from the AFRO during a media advisory Feb. 26. His office did not respond to requests for answers to the additional questions.

Peaceful coexistence between longtime and new residents:
We made affordable housing a priority for construction in the Shaw community. Rent control, I was a chairman on the council to get rent control extended now over 10 years. Property tax relief, we now have the lowest property tax rates in the metropolitan region; we have put caps on peoples property taxes, and [the taxes] can only increase up to 10 percent a year, and I have a bill before the council now, that will hopefully get passed in the next month that if a senior citizen is 75 years or older, has lived in the city 15 years and earns less than $60,000 they will never have to pay property tax again.

Education:
As mayor, I am going to focus on four issues: education, public safety, affordable housing, and job creation. I guarantee that I will make sure that every child in our city has access to a quality education. They're going to school now at four, we need to get it down to two years old. What makes a great school? Good principle, good teacher, good curriculum, safe environment, and probably the most important and hardest parental involvement. I am going to make sure that every school in our city has those five things.

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Council Member Tommy Wells (Ward 6), 56, director, D.C. Consortium for Child Welfare

Education: Columbus School of Law at Catholic University, JD and University of Minnesota, master's degree in social work.

Elected to the council in 2006

Endorsements: Local 36 of the International Association of Firefighters; Fraternal Order of Police representing D.C. police.

Wells’ campaign manager e-mailed his responses to the {AFRO} March 3.

Education:
I will make sure every child has a quality elementary school within walking distance of their home—and they don’t have to win a lottery to attend. And I’ll solve the problem of under-enrolled schools not by closing them down, but by working with parents and educators to make them schools of choice. I will knit together DCPS and charter schools, aligning grade ranges and strategically filling gaps to provide all students with great options at the middle and high school levels. I will raise our graduation rates by creating incentives to stay in school and meeting the needs of at-risk students.

Affordable Housing:
My plan includes:supports to keep people in their homes in the form of emergency bridge funding, rent supplements including money exclusively for seniors; increase funding for Rapid Re-housing to extend its benefits to more at-risk residents; affordable housing options in every ward, including one-third of this housing for our city’s workforce, including police officers, firefighters, teachers and construction workers; the integration of affordable housing into all city-funded development projects…

Peaceful coexistence between longtime and new residents:
I recently announced that a Wells administration will include a Religious Affairs Adviser in my cabinet. I want to bring religious institutions to the table because they have a strong, historically based love of our city. I want to bring them to the table because religious leaders are often the first people alerted to social or environmental injustice, even before our government agencies.

Black Opportunity:
I have called for a new Department of Labor so that D.C. has watchdogs enforcing our laws. Residents and local businesses need a level playing field and we must punish those who violate the laws and regulations that require hiring D.C. first. Second, we have to end the pay-to-play system of doing business in D.C. government. Huge contractors and corporations that can donate more go to the front of the line in our city – and the only way to end that is to fight the corruption that exists now.

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Reta Jo Lewis, 60, Attorney

Education: University of Georgia, B.A.; American University, M.S.; and Emory University School of Law, JD

Previous occupation: Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Lewis responded to the {AFRO} in an interview March 3.

Education:
We have to look at new partnerships. We have to look at what is really working, curriculum, students, extracurricular activities. We got to augment the resources where the needs are the greatest. We have to invest not only in technology, but also take care of the child where they are…We should have a comprehensive plan, a comprehensive strategy, knowing how to bring those partnerships together.

Affordable Housing:
It will be treating housing as a basic infrastructure in our budget, meaning $100 million each year put in my budget, into the affordable housing trust fund, to be stable and predictable. Go to private investors so that they know we plan to leverage that investment. Come up with a new construct where people are going to have to participate in the conversation in the types of housing that we are coming up with in the future…

Peaceful coexistence between longtime and new residents:
We have got to not be a city that is fighting the rich vs. poor, or blacks vs. browns and whites. We have to coexist in a community around a mutual respect of living. Only way to do that is with our leadership…We have to set the tone…

Black Opportunity:
End pay for play culture, throw open our books, and shine the spotlight on what is happening. First Source, start over. How fix it and enforce it? I think it’s all about data. Make sure we know who is getting hired. We got to loosen and lessen paper work on the small businesses that want to maintain and grow here in the District of Columbia. Partner the business opportunities between small and larger businesses around development of products and services.

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Andy Shallal, 58, Entrepreneur

Education: Catholic University of America, B.S.

Owner and Founder of Bus Boys and Poets and Eatonville Restaurants

Endorsements: George Pelecanos, best-selling author and TV producer; Peter Yarrow, folk musician; and Danny Glover, actor/activist.

Shallal’s campaign manager answered one question on Feb. 25. The {AFRO} was directed to several white papers on Shallal’s website to answer the other questions.

Education:
Replace D.C.’s failed high-stakes testing, intimidation and punishment education strategy with what works: respect, support, and collaboration. [Be] ready to engage the public and the educator workforce to actually improve our schools.

Affordable Housing:
Increase funding for the local rent supplement programs and permanent supportive housing. Commit $100 million annually to The Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF). Create a “Gentrification Tax Relief” program to prevent long-term residents from being forced out by higher property taxes, establish an Office of Development and Accountability to evaluate whether developers are complying with agreements to build affordable housing on public land…

Peaceful coexistence between longtime and new residents:
The new residents would have to basically understand that they are joining and not starting a new community.

Black Opportunity:
We want to make it easier to start businesses and for government agencies to procure from local business and social enterprises, especially minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

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Carlos Allen (D), 43, Entrepreneur, created HUSH Society Magazine

Education: Studied for three years at Troy State University

Endorsements: Kat Williams, Eddy Kane, Ski Johnson, Red Grant

Allen responded to the {AFRO} in an interview March 1.

Education:
I propose that we focus on children in the 7th grade. There’s going to be a course curriculum of different things, being a doctor, learn about law, learn about biology. They pick engineering, then we will take that engineering and combine it with the regular curriculum. We got to make sure that we change and make sure that we focus on how we are getting the individuals, these young kids summer jobs, but not only summer jobs, all year round jobs, and also teach them entrepreneurship.

Affordable Housing:
Start focusing on getting these folks into living wage jobs. We have to figure out what is affordable housing based on our constituencies here in the District of Columbia. We [give] a lot of big businesses a lot of tax incentives to provide affordable housing to folks. The problem is we’re not basically enforcing the laws we have on the books.

Peaceful coexistence between longtime and new residents:
There’s not enough parking in the area, but what we have to do is make sure developers coming in provide parking for the residents that they basically are building for, so there should either be underground parking or above parking. We got to work with both sides if we really want this to be one city, then we got to come together and compromise, especially on a day of worship.

Black Opportunity:
We are going to make sure that they get the incentives that are properly necessary for them to hire people from the District of Columbia. We’re going to allow the small business individuals to provide [residents with] experience and training them if necessary and the District of Columbia is going to pay [small businesses] to do this.

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D.C. Mayoral Candidates

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