So I mentioned I’d do a little research/blogging on the at-large candidates for D.C.’s City Council. Well, I’ve done a little research, and before I get to my take, it’s worth again summarizing the thrust of the election. Basically, D.C law guarantees room for a minority party candidate on the council, and since D.C. is overwhelmingly liberal, there are a number of Democrats running as “Independents.” Also in the mix is Patrick Mara, the Republican candidate; Carol Schwartz, the bubbe-cum-offensive-lineman Republican running a write-in campaign; Kwame Brown, the incumbent Democrat; and lastly, David Schwartzman of the Statehood Green party.
To get my first vote out of the way immediately, I’m going to roll with the Washington Post in casting my first at-large vote for Kwame Brown. As for my second vote, this decision was a bit tougher. You see, I was at first inclined to vote for David Schwartzman, the progressive candidate who favors “Green Collar” job growth and increasing taxes on those making more than $270,000 (roughly). But D.C. government isn’t the federal government, and with 11 of 12 council members already liberal, the calculus shifts away from pure ideological preference and more towards the mechanics of governance. To wit, the prospects of the D.C. Coucnil implementing its own green recovery program are both dim and best handled by the Federal government anyway.
One of the biggest issues confronting the D.C. government where the at-large spot might have sway however, is education. Last year, Mayor Fenty adopted expanded control of the failing D.C. school system, appointing Michelle Rhee, who has shown real promise in her efforts to make teachers accountable and offer expanded access to charter schools. This is where things get tricky. The favorite, Democrat Independent Michael Brown, clashes with Fenty, and if elected would be the seventh member of an anti-Fenty majority bloc, making meaningful reform on one of the only critical issues intractable. The same logic applies with a vote for remaining Independents Dee Hunter and Mark Long, Statehood Green David Scwartzman, and write-in Republican Carol Schwartz. Where to go then?
Slightly less of a long shot after recently receiving an endorsement from the Post, and also the future recipient of my vote, is Republican Patrick Mara. Though he signed Grover Norquist’s idiotic pledge never to raise taxes, it’s unlikely that as a lone Republican on a council of 12 his promise will have any teeth. What’s more, he’s a firm supporter of transit (he bikes!), gay marriage, and abortion rights. Perhaps more importantly in D.C. however, Mara would prove a strong Fenty ally on school reform. Read more here if you like, but also keep in mind that Michael Brown is apparently a huge douche.