From Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her on Twitter me @MichLancaster.
Reform was the buzzword at the At-Large City Council Candidate Forum, held Tuesday evening at Church of the Holy City, 16th and Corcoran NW. Education reform, ethics reform, zoning reform, reforming the DCRA process… all were part of a robust question and answer session attended by all candidates running for the seat. The event began with an introduction of the candidates, proceeded into a question and answer period and concluded with a brief closing statement by each candidate.
The event was well attended, as 70-plus citizens packed into the room, some standing the entire event, to hear the candidates discuss their positions. The majority of the candidates and attendees continued on to the reception graciously sponsored by Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, following the event, which offered the opportunity for one-on-one discussions with candidates. The event began with candidates Sekou Biddle, Joshua Lopez, Patrick Mara, Alan Page and Bryan Weaver. They were later joined by Dorothy Douglas, Tom Brown and Vincent Orange.
The question and answer period included questions on education, small business, ANC zoning and retaining young workers in the district. Most candidates agreed on the need for additional actions to be taken to restore faith in elected officials after recent events in the Wilson Building, including how corporate donations are bundled (Weaver) and the establishment of an ethics committee (Mara, Lopez). All candidates agreed that continuing to improve the state of the city’s schools were imperative in keeping young voters living in DC as they age and build families.
The most contentious point of the discussion was prompted by a question on legislation in Congress that would reinstate funding for school vouchers that can be used at religious schools that implicitly or explicitly teach against homosexuality, therefore violated the DC Human Rights Act. Candidates who oppose the program were Weaver, Lopez and Page, citing concerns about violating the Act and encouraging homophobia. Candidates who support the program were Biddle, Douglas and Mara. Biddle and Mara noted the influx of funds it brings for both public and charter schools as part of the reason they support it, with Douglas emphasizing the need for parental choice in providing their children a quality education.
The candidates closing statements emphasized their qualifications, experience with creating positive change within the city and their distinctions from their competitors. All of the candidates are passionate about the city, improving the quality of life for residents and moving our economy forward.
Now it’s time for you to do your homework, read up on the candidates and VOTE. The special election is April 26 and you can find your polling place here. It’s worth double-checking, as some have changed for this election; that full list for the special election is here.
Sponsors of the event were Borderstan.com, Dupont Circle ANC, Dupont Circle Citizens Association, Dupont Circle Merchants and Professionals, Foggy Bottom Association, Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, Logan Circle Community Association and Urban Neighborhood Alliance. The event was moderated by Tom Hay of Borderstan.com.