The Cleveland Park Citizens Association held a forum for the At-Large Council candidates this past Thursday. The election is on Tuesday April 23, at the regular precinct polling places. One Cleveland Park Listserv contributor offered this review:
I want to commend the Cleveland Park Citizens' Association and moderator Mark
Plotkin for an entertaining and informative candidates' forum this past
Thursday. Interest in Tuesday's special election for an at-large DC City
Council seat was very high --about 150-- which speaks highly of the civic
mindedness of our neighborhood. I found the forum extremely revelatory of the
candidates' positions and character, but as I was leaving, I heard many people
say that they still didn't know who to vote for. So I want to offer my take on
the event and the candidates.
There seemed to me two candidates present who reflected the generally
centrist-liberal politics and community activism of Cleveland Park-- Democrats
Matthew Frumin and Elissa Silverman. Mr. Frumin offered a positive, uplifting
view of the future of DC as a growing, populous area with more than adequate
resources to solve our remaining problems. He embodies a local politician in
the best sense of the word: someone who talks to all citizens and brings them
together to find common, consensus solutions to sticky issues. Ms.
Silverman-surprisingly-struck me as negative, wanting to criticize opposing
groups and council members rather than bringing them together.
Statehood Green party candidate Perry Redd was engaging, articulate and very
funny. He attracted the most applause and laughter of all the candidates at the
forum, and has generated widespread support among all the candidates for his
party's core issues of DC budget autonomy and statehood. But his positions
struck me as significantly to the left of those of most of the people in this
community, particularly that calling for a DC minimum wage of $14 per hour.
Democrat Paul Zukerberg is campaigning on the single issue of marijuana
decriminalization, and has also generated widespread support for this issue both
among his fellow candidates and according to a recent automated phone poll. But
he appeared much less well informed and competent than the other candidates to
address the other issues that are more central to DC's future.
Based on what I heard Thursday, I have real concerns about Republican Patrick
Mara. Even as just a member of the State Board of Education, a body with very
limited responsibilities and authority, he seems to be a professional politician
with no other means of income or support. He seemed unable to provide a
straight answer to many questions, dancing around issues ranging from the
meaning of his party affiliation to whether restaurants should provide their
employees with paid sick leave. I left concerned that --even before joining the
Council-- Mr. Mara was beholden to special interests that remained undefined.
Reports in the Washington Post that he may have tried to sell his contributors'
list only add to that concern.
Interim City Council member and Democrat Anita Bonds was absent from the forum
but not from the conversation. It was reported that Ms. Bonds has failed to
participate in any candidates' forums or special events since her controversial
April 8 appearance on the Kojo Nnamdi show, in which she intimated that black
voters should support her because she was black. Ms. Bonds' voice also seems
notably absent from Council discussions in the several months that she has been
on the Council. It appears she may not be cut out for the rough, tumble and
constituent contact of city politics.
The Vote is April 23rd.