City Desk

Vote This Way on April 3!

Washington City Paper Endorses Sekou Biddle

In D.C. politics, two events are fast approaching: April 3, the day of the primary elections, and whatever future date the plummeting poll numbers of D.C.’s troubled political class finally hits zero. You can’t stop the calendar, but election day might represent an opportunity to turn around the dismal view most people have of their elected officials. Unfortunately, the odds are that the incumbents will slither back into office, the rails greased by insider donations—and the path made easier by a generally lackluster crop of challengers and an expected low voter turnout.

All the same, Washington City Paper has co-hosted a string of candidates’ debates over the past couple weeks with WPFW’s D.C. Politics show, as we try to figure out who to vote for ourselves. (The last of those debates, for the Ward 7 seat, will take place March 26 at Ray’s the Steaks at East River; our endorsement in that race will follow on

Some picks:

  • At-Large

Incumbent Vincent Orange got his seat in a special election last year that felt more like a revenge plot against his enemies who denied him an initial appointment to the job. Now he seems to have trouble with such indelicate questions as, “Why should we vote for you?” or, “What is your position on this issue?” We prefer the guy Orange unseated, Sekou Biddle. Yes, we wish he hadn’t played the insider’s game that put him on the council last year. But Biddle brings a long track record on education reform, a progressive outlook on the city’s problems, and a sense of how to balance the needs and interests of all its residents. While opponent E. Gail Anderson Holness rightly laments corporate influence in city politics in her inimitable, intelligent manner, we think Biddle has a more comprehensive vision for the job. And Peter Shapiro only recently moved to D.C. from Prince George’s County, where he served as council chairman; we admire his enthusiasm for his new home, but aren’t sure he’s quite ready for the Wilson Building.

Washington City Paper Endorses Muriel Bowers

  • Ward 4

We’d really wanted to make this an all-challengers endorsement. Then we met Muriel Bowser’s opponents, who spent much of our recent candidates’ forum misstating the responsibilities and powers of any ward councilmember. For all the places we wish the incumbent’s record were better (say, by actually banning corporate donations as part of her ethics bill, or by resisting Pepco’s opposition to Public Utilities Commission nominee Elizabeth Noel) she’s still the rare independent voice on a D.C. Council that’s been dominated by mediocrities like Chairman Kwame Brown and crooks like ex-councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. If you can’t abide the prospect of supporting any incumbent, we suggest checking out Renée Bowser (no relation), a labor lawyer and ANC commissioner whose debate performance suggest she’d do a stellar job grilling recalcitrant city officials at hearings. Otherwise, vote Muriel. Who knows: If the talk of her mayoral ambitions is true, you may get another chance in just two years.

Washington City Paper Endorses Jacque Patterson

  • Ward 8

Like any successful pol, Marion Barry benefits from lousy opponents: Over 30 years he’s faced tomato cans like Sharon Pratt and Sandy Allen. The current challengers may fare no better. That’s a shame. Barry’s most recent term has been marked by personal scandals (earmark booboos, girlfriend-in-Denver booboos) and political betrayal (a longtime supporter of gay rights, he waxed demagogic against gay marriage). He didn’t show at our debate, where he might have discussed issues like how a city should balance population growth against residents’ fear of being priced out. Sadly, would-be replacements didn’t cover themselves in glory: Sandra Seegars and Darrell Gaston came very close to endorsing universal gun ownership, for instance; rival Jacque Patterson demurred, saying it depended on what type of weapon. Luckily, that’s not the only thing to set Patterson apart. A former Anthony Williams appointee, he’s one candidate who would actually seem like a pro in representing a part of town that could use some help.

  • Ward 2

Jack Evans is even luckier than Barry in his opponents—he’s unopposed! That’s a shame, too. Evans has been outspoken in his disdain for the D.C. government’s status quo. But he’s been legislatively absent when it comes to changing a sleazy political culture. We also disagree with some of the places he’s exerting actual effort, like in the dubious plan to build a Redskins practice facility on a tract east of Capitol Hill where an actual neighborhood might otherwise rise. We propose a write-in: Residents should elect the Jack Evans who called this the worst D.C. Council in 20 years. The more conspicuous Evans who cozies up to Dan Snyder and opposes limits on councilmembers’ outside employment should be sent packing.

Photos of Biddle and Bowser by Darrow Montgomery; photo of Patterson via

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  • Blogmania

    Wow. not a word re all evans has done for ward 2 and the city over the last 20 years? about his ability to get things done or his record on lgbt issues? just that WCP doesnt want the skins back in dc and opposes 2nd jobs for CMs.

    and you wonder why your paper is for sale?

  • Political Observer

    Don't be a tomato can!

  • Ward 1 Voter

    The good things that have happened in Ward 2 in the last 20 years would have happened even with Marion Barry representing that ward. Evans is a waste of space. Imagine how awesome it would be to have a CM representing Ward 2 neighborhoods who actually understood and supported and pushed for what makes great city neighborhoods great. Well, we'll have 4 more years of wistful, wishful imagining.

    Great endorsements, btw. It's too bad Biddle and Shapiro will be splitting the reform vote, likely allowing Orange to win. Wait a minute. Didn't Biddle split the reform vote with Weaver last year, allowing Orange to win?

  • Mrs. D

    When can we expect an endorsement for the W5 special election?

  • Ward 2 Voter

    Seriously? Evans gets judged on a single issue (ethics), while ignoring all he has done for the city's finances and neighborhoods over two decades? I'm not saying he couldn't do or lead more now, but his accomplishments should merit some credit here and they get none.

    On the other hand, other candidates gets judged on several issues and in a much broader sense.

    Hardly fair and discredits all of these endorsements.

    Secondly, Biddle, for whatever his chances are in this race, is a poor choice for the face of DC's 'progressive' movement as is Weaver. Until a new leadership steps forward, this is going no where fast and DC's old guard won't be letting go anytime soon.

  • D

    I don't understand the Evans ennui either and agree that he deserves more credit. I do understand the anger towards all things Snyder, but shouldn't you wait to see at least some vague plans before you trash the practice facility idea? Or are your hunches the basis for these editorials?

  • Shani Hilton

    @Mrs D -- the Ward 5 election isn't until May, so it won't be until next month.

  • RT

    I feel bad for Jack Evans, after all he's done for this city. It's trendy to hate on him now, but for those of us who have lived through decades, we realize what this man has done for the city. He's not perfect but jesus- on this council??-- who is? Other than Tommy Wells and Vince Gray, he's probably the best we've got. The rest can go.

    People with talent and ethics- I implore you to step up to the plate and get into elected office.

  • DConfidential

    Ward 2 voter wrote:
    "Until a new leadership steps forward, this is going no where fast and DC's old guard won't be letting go anytime soon."

    How about has the ability to get elected. For all of their talk, DC 'progressives' are no more unified than the GOP. DC Democratic "progressives" are akin to independents on the national scale. These are votes that are critical to determining a close race between two pre-established candidates. Progressives like independents may determine the outcome, but are unable to sustain a single candidate that could beat a candidate of the establish parties.

    In a quest to usher in a new leadersip in DC, will progressives deliver four more years of Vincent Orange?

  • MV

    I'm disappointed that the City Paper and the post have endorsed Muriel Bowser. As a Ward 4 resident, I am 0-3 in getting responses from her (or her staff) when I email. I have neighbors with similar experiences. It seems to me that she is more concerned with playing the bigger game that gets her to the Mayor's office than she is with helping constituents.

    For being the anointed one by the Blackberry Mayor, I suppose there are a lot of ways that it was politically wise to distance herself from Fenty...but ignoring questions/comments/concerns from constituents was a weird tactic. Looks like it worked though.

  • dcgovcorruption

    No, I will not vote for Mr. Biddle who had a chance to sponsor and fight for ethics legislation and failed to do so why he was on the DC City Council. He was sponsored by Chairman Brown and Mr. Biddle should remain in the private sector.

  • Mingus Norton

    Sekou and VO have had their chance. I'm voting for Shapiro. Change begins April 3rd

  • Real Ward 7 Dude

    Why didn't your paper endorse anyone in the ward 7 race? Tom Brown has gotten the support and endorsement of almost every group he's been in front of. What's the deal?

  • Shani Hilton

    @ Real Ward 7 -- we'll be endorsing a Ward 7 candidate after our Ward 7 debate. It is next Monday, 7 p.m., at Ray's The Steaks. Come out!

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