City Desk

Vote This Way on April 3 (Continued)!

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. We published a series of endorsements last week; here are our picks in the other Democratic primaries on the ballot. Why only the Democrats? Because in a town as one-party as the District, that primary is the real election.

Our picks, joining previous endorsees Sekou Biddle for D.C. Council at-large, write-in the disgruntled Jack Evans—not the collegial one on the ballot—for Ward 2, Muriel Bowser in Ward 4, and Jacque Patterson in Ward 8:

  • Ward 7

Just about every labor group, business organization, newspaper, or website that does endorsements loves Tom Brown in this race. We're not sure how many voters will pay attention to any of that, but sign us up, too. Brown's long résumé in workforce development and education would help the D.C. Council grapple with high unemployment, particularly east of the Anacostia River. And though he's taken corporate contributions for this race, he calls for measures that would end some of the blatant conflicts of interest District law now allows. Rival Kevin B. Chavous impressed us, as well, especially with his sharp observations about how incumbent Yvette Alexander has fallen short; in particular, Chavous highlights her close ties to Walmart, which is bringing two stores to Ward 7 with only minimal promises to hire local residents or pay living wages. But Chavous, even though he's only 28, doesn't represent enough of a complete break with D.C.'s recent political history—mostly because his father, former Councilmember Kevin P. Chavous, is a prominent part of it (he lost the Ward 7 seat to now-Mayor Vince Gray in 2004). The ward and the city could probably use better representation than Alexander, though, as even longshot candidates Dorothy Douglas and the Rev. Bill Bennett point out. At City Paper's debate, Alexander claimed as her signature legislative accomplishment the technical law the council passed in order to allow D.C. to comply with President Barack Obama's health care reform act; we're glad to have that one on the books, but it surely would have passed with or without Alexander's help. She also takes credit for bringing development to the ward, but much of it was in the works before she even ran for office.

  • Shadow Senator

There's no particularly good choice for this office, which comes with no salary, no real budget, and no actual responsibilities other than to highlight the District's lack of representation in Congress. (It's not like the Capitol Police consider you a senator.) The incumbent, Michael D. Brown, is best known for running for a D.C. Council at-large seat last year with a strategy that boiled down to: "Maybe voters will think I'm the other Michael Brown!" Meanwhile, his opponent, Pete Ross, has dumped more than $200,000 of his own money into his campaign. We're glad he's so enthusiastic about the job, but given the number of federal investigations into the D.C. government, we're not sure someone who pleaded guilty to a federal felony is the city's ideal lobbyist on the Hill—especially because the nature of Ross's crime, tax evasion, directly undermines the District's "taxation without representation" argument. Vote Michael D. Brown, but don't be surprised to find that Michael A. Brown remains on the D.C. Council dais.

  • Shadow Representative

After his start to citywide elected office, this race most likely won't be the last time you see Nate Bennett-Fleming's name on a D.C. ballot. The energetic, young Ward 8 native is the only candidate for the Democratic nomination, which means he'll almost certainly eventually join the man who beat him two years ago, Mike Panetta, in pushing for D.C. statehood. It's good to see he's already learned one of the first rules of politics: Better to run unopposed!

  • U.S. Delegate

Last time around, we backed Eleanor Holmes Norton on the theory that a GOP Congress would mean the District needed someone to play defense. The same theory holds true in the inverse now; Democrats think they might be able to take the House, and Norton—who's tight with the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus and has been in the non-voting seat for 21 years—would be well-positioned to advocate statehood's cause. Of course, for most of her tenure in Congress, she's been equally well-positioned for that advocacy. But like many of her House colleagues, she has no rival for re-election in this primary. Vote for her again this time, but grudgingly; it's time to deliver a few wins, Del. Norton.

Photo of Tom Brown via; photo of Michael D. Brown by KCinDC via Wikimedia Commons/CC-SA 3.0; photo of Nate Bennett-Fleming via Twitter; photo of Eleanor Holmes Norton via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Prty Gurrl

    As a former House staffer, I assure you EHN has few friends in Congress, esp fellow Black Caucus members. Result of her 21 yrs in office = no movement on voting rights.

  • HUH?

    lemme get this straight? you endorse 'write-in' for ward 2, but thrown an endorsement to norton, the biggest do-nothing in town?

    whatever the 2 mike's are smoking at the city paper should be passed around. clearly its the good stuff.

  • Ward7Dog

    As a ward 7 resident I will be sticking with the Dog I know--Yvette. Tom Brown just recently moved here from Ward 8. Kevin needs to reform his sex habits. The Rev. Bennett, living in his church for the campaign but really lives in MD. Also, I will be voting for Vincent Orange for Councilmember at Large.

  • David

    Fantastic that Pete Ross sponsors your daily newsletter but you endorse his opponent.

  • Mike Madden

    @ David:

    Our editorial copy and our advertising sales are entirely separate.

  • David

    @Mike, did not mean it as a complaint - I appreciated the irony.

  • Martin

    I'm glad to see that Bennett getting this endorsement.

  • Kyle Yeldell

    Congrats Nate! Keep doing great work for the city.

  • George S.

    The AFL-CIO and other local labor unions have endorsed Renee Boweser, not Muriel, because Muriel is in the pockets of Walmart.

    Click Renee when voting in Ward 4 on April 3.

  • Somebody

    Alexander may not be the best candidate in the eyes of some, but everyone of her opponents are looking for a six figured paying job and some POWER. Yep, if anyone of them unseat her, watch what happens next. Until money is taken out of the District Building, greed and a need to have some will get the best of the best. So, with that being said, a women needs to remain in the seat. Too many men are already controlling the politics of this city.

    Every male candidate in Ward 7 continues to attack her character - desperate bastards. Nine children, of course you need a decent paying job. No home to call home, that one needs a job too. Young, arrogant, and feeling entitled, why not think you're entitled to be seated on the council. Never mind you have not contributed anything to the communities in the ward.

    Look through the bullshit and see the big picture you guys. Compassion, a nurturing spirit and a clear mind with a real vision and purpose for the residents in the ward - Yvette Alexander STILL!

    Better check that DNA and see what really lines the litter box. With all the workforce development, job empowerment, etc. etc., why are the unemployment numbers still high in Mr. DNA's ward? Where are the people that garnered success from the DNA programs? Why do we continuously speak of Marion Barry as though we are still in that other Ward - no real ownership to Ward 7 is my guess.

    But still she will rise - Yvette Alexander GUYS.

    Oh, the Walmart thing, every women in the different wards will be up in the place as soon as the doors open saving their pennies. Do you think they will be concerned about benefits agreements, of course not. Bargains baby boys, bargains. Don't be petty, do the right thing white boys and show some love for another sistah!

  • Real Ward 7 Resident

    Interesting to see that the same folks applauding for Yvette (her staff in danger of losing their jobs!) are also on here spreadin t hg lies. Tom Brown lived for a short time in W8, and moved BACK to Ward 7 after a home invasion that involved a shoot out with police while his family was in the house. He has a job now, and doesn't need the pay. The thugs in Alexander's campaign are intimidating others to the point of getting kicked out of events. Tom Brown is definitely change that is desperately needed in Ward 7. While we don't need anyone to tell us what to do, it is great to see Tom get endorsements from every paper in the region and virtually every endorser including labor (AFL-CIO) and business (Chamber of Commerce) --imagine the power for Ward 7 being able to bring labor AND business to the same table to work together for the!

  • Ward7Resident

    @Somebody & Ward7dog: Simply put... It's time for a change. Councilmember Alexander has proven herself to be incompetent, out of touch, divisive, and most importantly, ineffective as a legislator. It's no longer about gender or personal ax grinding. Ward 7 deserves better representation on the Council of the District of Columbia. Mr. Brown has proven his ability to listen AND learn throughout this campaign. Mr. Brown has demonstrated his ability to grasp and understand how to better impact issues facing our Ward. Ms. Alexander has proven over and over again, that she is either incapable of listening, or simply unwilling to listen to her constituents. Please stop the attempts of further fracturing and dividing the Ward under false and irrelevant pretenses. Creating nebulous distractions and changing the subject will not work this time! This election, for many of us, is a Business decision.... it's not personal. Remember, the Ward 7 Councilmember is an employee of the people of Ward 7 AND other residents of the District of Columbia. The current employee has failed to perform at the level expected and needed. Therefore, we have interviewed other applicants, and Mr. Brown stands heads and shoulders above the competition. Starting today, I urge all Ward 7 Democrats to Vote Tom Brown!

  • cutthecrap

    If you really go door to door in Ward 7, the residents will tell you none of the candidates are worthy. Non of them have done anything for the ward. All of them are a joke.

  • Janice Morre

    Pete Ross is running for shadow senator, why? Why spend 200k of his own money to win a seat with no power? For those wondering why a rich Foxhall road resident stole money from his employees - a quick research on DC court website revealed that just before he stole the money he was ordered to pay just under 200k to the family of a child who was poisoned by lead from a rental property he owned. The sick part of the case is that he fought hard not to pay by claiming that the parents were party responsible -- they should not have allowed their child to ingest the peeling lead paint that covered the interior of their home! Contributory negligence! Once he and his lawyers realized the judge was not going to let them get away with even suggesting this, he settled. Thank you city paper for not endorsing this guy who thinks he can buy an election.

  • Another SE Resident

    Go @Somebody and @Ward7Dog, I'm not staff but I will be checking off Yvette Alexander on the ballot. Imagine I got a call from Tom Brown trying to count on my vote. Ha. Haven't seen anything he would do to turn the ward around. Plus, he's still yet to come knocking on my front door. I do look forward to the Walmart. Retail to 7.

  • DCNative

    Kevin B. Chavous got my vote. The only candidate I see multiple times in a week! He out there for the people!

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