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DC Mayoral Candidates Take A Stand On Issues, Competition

Find out who said what about transportation, schools, taxes and more.

Seven D.C. mayoral candidates debated at Dumbarton House on Jan. 9. Left to right: Christian Carter, Jack Evans, Reta Lewis, Vincent Orange, Andy Shallal, Tommy Wells. Muriel Bowser attended but left before the end. (Photo by Michelle Peirano)
Seven D.C. mayoral candidates debated at Dumbarton House on Jan. 9. Left to right: Christian Carter, Jack Evans, Reta Lewis, Vincent Orange, Andy Shallal, Tommy Wells. Muriel Bowser attended but left before the end. (Photo by Michelle Peirano)

Seven mayoral candidates vying for the democratic nomination in Washington, D.C.'s next mayoral race debated several city-wide issues, including the future of Whitehurst Freeway, at Georgetown's Dumbarton House on Thursday. 

The debate, sponsored by the Georgetown Business Association and the Citizen's association of Georgetown, was moderated by Davis Kennedy, editor and publisher of The Current Newspapers. 

The candidates answering include councilmembers Jack Evans, Muriel Bowser, Vincent Orange and Tommy Wells, restaurant-owner Andy Shallal, former State Department official Reta Lewis, and contractor Christian Carter.

Here is a taste of what they had to say:

Editor's note: These questions are summarized and some of the statements are only partial answers from the candidates.


What to do about parking availability in the city?

Bowser: "Walking all around Ward 2, people tell me DDOT got it wrong." Better public transportation, bike shares and walking spaces are her solutions.
Evans: Likes parking the way it is. "Taking away parking restrictions is a terrible idea."
Lewis: "It is fair for us as communities to have parking." 
Orange: There should be one parking space per D.C. resident.
Shallal: Public transportation needs to be addressed before parking. 
Wells: Street parking should not be given to every resident living in a multi-home building. Georgetown needs a metro stop and a streetcar. 

Should neighborhood organizations, much like Business Improvement Districts, be formed with “special taxing areas?”

 

Evans: Supports the idea of a residential BID, but is concerned that neighborhoods without money would be left out of a “residential BID” structure.

Lewis: Would not want an inequality of action from neighborhood to neighborhood. The model for neighborhood organizations would have to be citywide. “Everyone wants the same rights.”

Orange: Communities without a strong business district should also receive the services a BID offers.

Shallal: Set up BIDs east of the river. Where there is no business, the city needs to provide jobs.

Wells: Allow law enforcement to do its job more efficiently. “There is no level of crime acceptable in any neighborhood.”

Bowser: Neighborhoods should be improved by access to current resources. “No more taxes for basic city services.”

Should corporate contributions be banned from D.C. elections?

 

Lewis: Everyone deserves a fair shot.

Orange: Corporate employment of councilmembers should be banned.

Shallal: There should be a limit on the amount of money given.

Wells: Not a single candidate should be taking corporate contributions.

Bowser: Disclosure, sunlight, enforcement.

Evans: Campaign finance laws are where they should be.

Carter: “I’m the candidate with no money.” If there were no corporate contributions, “behind-the-scenes” deals would rule.

 

Should the minimum wage be raised?

 

Orange: This government has not followed the law in regards to the D.C. living wage.

Shallal: Businesses should not wait for a vote to raise their employees’ wages.

Wells: The minimum wage matches the consumer price index. “We did something, and I’m proud that we did it.”

Carter: The people in our communities don’t earn enough to keep up with the times.

Bowser: Wants to get more residents in middle-income jobs.

Evans: Workers do deserve more pay, but D.C. has to take Maryland and Virginia into consideration when adjusting the minimum wage, so that businesses don’t leave the District.

Lewis: Protests show that people are not willing to wait for a vote.

 

How should D.C. approach the issue of affordable housing?

 

Wells: Affordable and workforce housing should be a number one priority.

Carter: D.C. should contract only with D.C. companies and hire only D.C. residents when building new residential properties on D.C. lands.

Bowser: People love the investments we’re making in development, but they want to be here to benefit from them. The current administration broke its promise of affordable housing.

Evans: Rent control and job creation at the Convention Center Hotel are examples of how he would keep housing affordable and provide income to D.C. residents.

Lewis: There is a serious crisis in affordable housing.

Orange: The $1.5 billion in rainy day funds should be spent on D.C. residents. “We should be ashamed.”

Shallal: For residents to stay in the District, there needs to be a solution to the constant increase in housing costs. The District keeps “losing inventory” year after year.

 

Are business tax rates in D.C. appropriate?

 

Carter: Lower taxes. District businesses need all the breaks they can get.

Bowser: D.C. should only be asking for what it needs.

Evans: Would reduce all taxes by one cent per year.

Lewis: D.C. needs to attract and maintain businesses.

Orange: Businesses are already in the District, generating revenue. Don’t lose them.

Shallal: District taxes are too high. Small businesses should get a better shake at taxes.

Wells: Cut small business taxes but not commercial property taxes.

 

How should school spending be distributed?

 

Evans: We need a system that works for all of our children.

Lewis: Elementary schools are already one of the highest in the nation. We need an understanding of how to prepare middle and high school students for the workforce.

Orange: Schools should focus on making sure students have the skills necessary to progress.

Shallal: “Schools do not fail.” There needs to be a real focus on leadership at our schools.

Wells: Every family should have a great elementary school within walking distance.

Carter: Distribute the resources evenly and diversify schools.

Bowser: More resources should be spent where the need is greatest.

 

Georgetown is the largest employment area in the District without a Metro stop. Does it need one?

 

Lewis: Supports the Georgetown BID’s plan to have a metro stop by 2028.

Orange: There should be many more metro stops, but it takes a plan and a will.

Shallal: Wants to live once in his life when he can drive across the city without seeing any big construction projects.

Wells: The metro needs to go both east and west to connect our city.

Bowser: The city needs a plan to raise the millions of dollars needed for a project like that.

Evans: Georgetown needs a stop in the next round of building. 

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