On June 19, D.C. voters will cast ballots in the primaries for mayoral candidates, council members and House delegates. To prepare voters, DC Refined reached out to every candidate in the races and asked for interviews. Candidates who did not respond to the request are noted with * below. Next up, we examine the candidates for at-large council member.
When comparing every challenger for the At-Large Member of the D.C. Council seat, Anita Bonds is the only one with elected experience. As an incumbent, she may have an edge on her opponents, thanks to name recognition and seniority. She was first selected as an interim member of the D.C. Council in December 2012 after former At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson became Council chairman in June of that year. Currently, she is the Chair of the Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Committee, so her focus is on building and preserving affordable housing and having oversight on departments like the D.C. Housing Authority.
Bonds co-sponsored the Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013, which increased the minimum wage, and authored the Senior Citizen Real Property Tax Relief Act of 2013, which eliminates the burden of property taxes for those District residents who are 70 years or older, have lived in the city for at least 25 years and make less than $60,000 in income. She also passed a bill that caps fees charged to tenants for late rent payments at 5 percent of the monthly rent.
While describing himself as an “eco-Socialist,” David Schwartzman says that he has always been political, having been involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement and also active in the Free Angela Davis Committee in Providence, Rhode Island. Once again, Schwartzman is on the ballot for D.C., this time running for At-Large Member of the D.C. Council as a member of the D.C. Statehood Green party. Schwartzman has run for this same position before, running in 2008 and receiving more than 18,500 votes. He ran for the same position two years later. He first ran for office in 1998 for the D.C. Delegate position and later as Shadow Senator in 2012 and 2014.
One issue he hopes to address is rent control. He hopes to change the law that says that rent control is limited to buildings constructed before 1976. Another priority for Schwartzman is establishing a public bank, similar to the one established in North Dakota in 1919. He describes North Dakota’s public bank as “function[ing] very well.” For housing providers and property owners with living conditions that are considered substandard, he hopes to eliminate their subsidies. He also hopes to cut subsidies to developers who prioritize the creation of high-income residences and instead shift these funds to the repair and expansion of public housing. He plans to raise taxes on the wealthy, more specifically those earning $200,000 or more, in order to fund “unmet needs, which are severe in D.C.” He estimates this approach will generate at least $250 million in revenue in 2019.
“I’m running to improve the quality of life of everyone,” Schwartzman tells DC Refined, “but in order to do that we have to address these inequality disparities, and we certainly have a tax base to do it even without additional federal help.”
Denise Hicks, the Libertarian candidate running for At-Large Member of the D.C. Council, is truly an enigma. She doesn’t seem to have a campaign website or a social media presence. When DC Refined reached out to her for an interview, there was no response back by the time of this article’s publication. What are her platforms? What is her background? If you know, readers, please fill in the blanks in the comments.
Over the past decade, native Washingtonian Jeremiah Lowery has been hard at work, assisting underserved communities across the District. With this June 2018 Primary election, he hopes to have an even bigger impact on the entire city by campaigning to become the next At-Large Member of the D.C. Council. Lowery tells us that he is the only candidate in this race who has experience working on both education policy and environmental policy, and claims to be the only candidate who has accepted 100 percent of his contributions from individual donors.
Lowery says that high-quality childcare is one of his highest priorities. If elected, he hopes to create a system so all children have access to high-quality childcare by extending the current program so it covers children ages zero to three. He also plans on making D.C. an even cleaner city, energy-wise. As At-Large Member, he hopes to work with environmental advocates and the Mayor to introduce bills that will reduce the city’s dependence on cars and add more bus and bike lanes. Public buses will also switch to electric in order to limit carbon dioxide pollution.
In May 2018, there were allegations that Lowery removed campaign signs that promoted At-Large Member candidate Marcus Goodwin, but Lowery has denied this “absolute lie,” and there has been no tangible evidence proving any claims of indiscretion. Despite the allegations, Lowery has successfully accumulated over 10 endorsements from organizations like online news publication Greater Greater Washington, the D.C. Tenants Advocacy Coalition (TENAC) and Jews United for Justice.
While a political newcomer, Marcus Goodwin is confident that he can win the seat to become At-Large Member of the D.C. Council, especially now that he has been endorsed by The Washington Post. At 28, he would be the Council’s youngest member if elected. This is his first time running for office, but he has spent some time in the Wilson Building, having worked for former Councilmember Jim Graham, working as a legislative aid in his committee, and in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, focusing on affordable housing and other issues.
Currently, he works as an acquisitions associate at the real estate development company Four Points LLC. With his experience in development, Goodwin’s main focus if elected is to create and preserve affordable housing. He also hopes to create more workforce housing for teachers and the local police force. He notes that less than 20 percent of the police force are D.C. residents. He also told Bisnow in October 2017 that he hopes to have a percentage of proceeds from the sale of all condos that are under the city's inclusionary zoning laws to go towards the Housing Production Trust Fund, which creates and preserves affordable housing in D.C. In order to address crime, he says the Council has to first focus on how to improve education in the city. Along with providing more after-school programs, he's also trying to fund free lunches for all students and shift a higher percentage of funding from the D.C. Public Schools Central Office to individual schools and allowing budgetary autonomy based on each school’s assessment of their students’ needs.