25 Mar 2014

A Lazy Voter's Guide to the April Fools' Election

image by themadamemeow on Instagram

Photo by themadamemeow on Instagram

You people. I don’t know why I even bother. Every election, every damn election, I’m out there telling you to vote, and like six of you do. No, you’re too busy. Or, “I don’t pay attention to that local stuff,” as if President Obama really cares that you helped carry DC for him. Or, the dog ate my homework.

Enough. Those of you who have been engaged and paying attention can stop reading now and go play outside. You’ve done your work. The rest of you, copy my homework:

Mayor: This is an unusual election, as for the first time in recent memory, we may actually have an independent candidate mount a credible challenge to the Democratic nominee in the fall. This is a good thing in general, I think, but beyond the scope of the April 1st election. For this post, I’m focusing on the Democratic primary that we have coming up.

Folks who have known me for more that a couple of days will be unsurprised at my pick here: Tommy Wells. Tommy has been an effective councilmember, both for our ward and for the city as a whole. He’s taken his oversight responsibility seriously, having been at various times chair of committees responsible for transportation, planning, libraries, parks, and now police, fire, and the judiciary. So seriously, that then-Council Chair Kwame Brown, with the tacit support of the other current candidates, sacked him for his vigorous investigation of allegations of wasteful use of a government vehicle. Critics allege that he “isn’t popular with the Council”, which is a point in his favor in my opinion; or that he “can’t get things done”, which simply isn’t true. The Anacostia river bag bill, the raise in minimum wages, and marijuana decriminalization are all largely the results of his legislative efforts. Finally, and most importantly to me, he shares and articulates a vision of a DC that I want to live in.

Let me take a moment to consider the other players in a crowded field. Mayor Gray, obviously, needs no introduction, nor do I need to go into the ongoing investigation and perhaps impending indictment for the shenanigans with his last campaign. From what I can see, he was either complicit or so disengaged to call his management style into question. It’s a pity, as I found Mr. Gray to be a quality Council Chair, and there’s much about his tenure as mayor to admire. I also credit him with a vision that, while not entirely to my liking, is thoughtfully laid out and that he seems to believe in. I could detail many of my frustrations that I’ve had as well, but as the shadow campaign is already a deal breaker for me, I’ll move on.

Muriel Bowser has emerged as a front runner, but she does very little for me. Her ethics bill was a small, tepid step in the right direction, and even then she continues to take donations from relatively untraceable LLCs. Per her bill, that loophole will close in 2015. Accepting them now is hypocritical. She’s been a muted and uninspiring voice as DC’s rep on the WMATA board, an organization that is in dire need of precisely the opposite. Her school policy seems to be repeating “Alice Deal for all” over and over, as if replicating the success of a middle school in the wealthiest neighborhood in DC was simply a matter of waving a wand. And unlike Tommy Wells, or even the mayor, I find her vision for who we are and where we want to go as a city lacking. As in, I can’t figure out what it is.

Oh, and there are some other candidates, but I don’t take any of them seriously. Do your own research on them.

Ward 6 Councilmember: One of, I think, Tommy Wells’s greatest strengths as Councilmember has been building an incredible team of folks to work for him. Any leader is only as good as the people they choose to surround themselves with and I think it’s perfectly fine to judge an executive on the quality of his hires. Among these has been his Chief of Staff, Charles Allen, now running for Councilmember in his own right.

I’ve known Charles for some time, and he is a no-brainer choice for this seat. His command of the issues is without parallel. He is savvy, articulate, and knowledgable. I’ve worked with him on various issues in my neck of the woods, and I can count on him for an intelligent response almost immediately. He is resolutely committed to education, and is committed to my single most important issue: dramatically and quickly improving middle schools.

His opponent, Darrel Thompson seems to have a good reputation on Capitol Hill, just not the Capitol Hill we live in. He’s a former Harry Reid staffer, and despite his local roots, both his experience and his donor base seem to be more grounded in Nevada than DC. Frankly, I have yet to find anyone that knows him outside of his work in Congress. He’s made that work a centerpiece of his campaign, but I’m unimpressed with a Councilmember whose vision for our city is begging the federal government for handouts. If he, or anyone else for that matter, has a REAL plan to advance statehood, I’m all ears, but I don’t see what he can get done as Ward 6 Councilmember that he couldn’t do when he was on Harry Reid’s staff.

Also, and this is critical, Mr. Thompson hasn’t voted in most of our elections. No. Absolutely not. You don’t get my vote if you’re not involved enough to bother to vote yourself. Democracy is work, people. It belongs to all of us. I can’t trust you with greater civic responsibility if you can’t hand the basic, the most absolute basic in civic responsibility: voting.

At-Large Council: This race has been overshadowed by the mayoral race, which is a shame. Dear lord people, Anita Bonds? Anita “Bikes Need License Plates” Bonds?!? However, as is traditional, we’re going to split our vote and let her win re-election. Because that’s what we do. Nate Benning-Fleming and John Settles have strong points between them, and I honestly have a hard time choosing. Greater Greater Washington has an excellent post laying out the views of many people I trust on this topic, and is worth the read. The Washington Post has endorsed Mr. Benning-Fleming, but that’s no reason to vote against him. He’ll probably get my vote as well.

Council Chair: Fine. Phil Mendelson. I couldn’t be less inspired by him, but he’s honest, intelligent, and dedicated. We don’t have enough of that going around to waste it.

DC Delegate to the House: Write in “Tim Krepp“. Obviously.

DC Shadow Senator: What? No. I honestly don’t care.

DC Democratic State Committee Offices: If you’ve spent more than five minutes in your entire life contemplating this, I’d go ahead and guess you’re not very popular at parties. But these are some of those offices that do a lot of the behind the scenes work within the Democratic Party. Now personally, I find that the DC Democratic Party has NOT taken a firm stand on corruption, that it has been an incestuous mess, and needs some new blood in there. Various groups have organized themselves into slates, including the old guard, ironically named “Democrats Moving Forward”; the somewhat puzzling “DC Ready for Hillary” (like theres a chance she won’t win around here?); and “The Rent is Too Darn High“. I’ll be voting “The Rent is Too Darn High” slate personally. As they put it, they’re “committed to fighting for an open, honest and engaged Democratic party and pushing toward a higher standard of accountability and ethics for our elected officials.” Anyone think that’s not important right now?


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3 responses to “A Lazy Voter's Guide to the April Fools' Election”

  1. Sabastian Cochran says:

    I fail to see what is progressive about a Councilmember that did not ensure that the police got their deserved cost of living raise. I wish that it had had the same priority as the marijuana law.

  2. Courtney R. Snowden says:

    You can vote The Rent is Too Darn High, and Courtney R. Snowden and Philip Pannell on the DC Ready For Hillary Slate! The Rent is Too Darn High isn’t running anyone in those two positions.

  3. Jimmie Ahimsa Luthuli says:

    Thanks for voting for Nate Bennett-Fleming! He appreciates the support of the Capitol Hill community!

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