With the D.C. Council increasingly fractured by personal rivalries and differences on policy, many council members and Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) will be looking to the new colleague as a potential tie-breaking vote. The winner will be sworn in within days of the election and casting votes, including on the fiscal year 2013 budget.
Although 11 candidates are in the race, political strategists and Ward 5 observers believe that Kenyan McDuffie, 36, Frank Wilds, 67, and Delano Hunter, 28, all of whom are Democrats and have competed in past Ward 5 elections, are best positioned to pull off a victory. But with turnout expected to be light, former council staffer Drew Hubbard, 34, a Democrat, and Republican Tim Day, 40, could also potentially claim victory.
In recent days, The Washington Post posed a series of questions to all of the competitive candidates to gauge their views on some issues of concern to voters citywide.
Q: Would you support doubling the city’s $35 residential parking permit fee to encourage more residents to take public transportation and free up more parking in residential areas?
A: McDuffie, Wilds, Hunter, Hubbard and Day all oppose the idea.
Q: Do you agree with the city’s plan to build a 37-mile, $1 billion streetcar network? If so, how would you pay for it?
A: Day wants the streetcar plan “scrapped” until a new, comprehensive transportation plan for the city is developed. McDuffie and Hubbard support streetcars but wouldn’t make it a priority until other programs, such as affordable housing, are better funded.
Wilds would support streetcars only if all the money comes from the federal government or through a regional partnership with Maryland and Virginia. Hunter said the streetcars are a “good investment” and require continued funding.
Q: Do you support continued taxpayer investment to expand the number of Capital Bikeshare stations?
A: Hunter said yes. McDuffie and Hubbard said only after other spending priorities, such as affordable housing, are met. Wilds said no because he worries that stations are “cluttering up sidewalks.”
Day said he would not support additional funding until a broader transportation vision for the District was in place. “Adding bike share stations to certain parts of Ward 5 is a moot point because they are mostly seniors and not going to ride them,” Day said.
Q: Would you vote to give D.C. police officers, who have not had a new contract since 2007, a pay raise if it resulted in cuts to other public-safety programs?
A: Day said yes. Hunter, Hubbard and McDuffie said they think there may be money in the budget to give the raises without making other cuts to public safety. Wilds said he would give police officers a raise only if it is accompanied by raises for teachers and firefighters.