At-LArge

Sekou Biddle

Vote the Way
WArd 7

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.

ing 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.

ShAdoW SenAtor

tom Brown

Michael d. Brown

WArd 2

Jack evans

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.

WArd 4

Muriel Bowser

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.

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.

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!

nate Bennett-Fleming

deLegAte to U.S. hoUSe

WArd 8

Jacque Patterson

eleanor holmes norton

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 be-

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.