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  •   On the Record: Harold Brazil

    Mayoral candidates responded in writing to five questions posed by The Washington Post. These are the responses of Harold Brazil.

    Question 1: As you know there have been discussions about what form city government should take after the D.C. financial control board goes out of existence. Describe the governmental structure that you believe would best serve the District and, specifically, what role, if any, a professional city manager should play.

    Photo of Harold Brazil
    Harold Brazil
    (File Photo)
    Harold Brazil: I believe we need more democracy, not less. We need more accountability by elected officials, not another layer of government. Washington, D.C., is different from cities with professional city managers, like Charlotte or Denver; those cities have elected officials at every level. District residents cannot vote for a state legislator or governor, a county commissioner, or a Congressman or Senator.

    If we are to be respectful of their wish to have elected leaders, accountable each election year for the job they do, we should consult with the residents of the District before making a change. Washington, D.C., needs a mayor who can work with Congress and the President to repair the flaws in the Home Rule Charter and forge a new alliance with the federal government to ensure the success of the city we share with them.

    My experience as both a Congressional staff member and a member of the City Council will allow me to build a working partnership. My record of working for economic and management reform is evidence not only of my capacity for meeting this challenge, but also of my commitment to making this city work.

    Question 2: Detail the single most important step you would take as mayor to improve the city's schools.

    Harold Brazil: There is nothing more important to this city than education. I believe that I have already taken the most important step I can by proposing a comprehensive six-point plan that focuses our attention on how well our children are doing rather than on how the system is doing.

    My plan calls for tough new recertification and evaluation standards for teachers; an honest evaluation of how well each school performs; reducing class size for kindergarten through eighth grade; providing enrichment programs, including tutor/mentor programs and before- and after-school care, in partnership with the community; assuring that students who need them have access to alternative schools; and working towards smaller "smart schools" with state-of-the-art resources and enrollments of no more than 500 students.

    The opportunities we create for our children are the keys to achieving all that we hope and dream for our city's future: attracting families and businesses, lowering crime, lessening poverty, and preparing ourselves for the challenges of the 21st Century. I am confident that my plan represents a solid strategy for change, and I pledge to use the leadership of the mayor's office to improve education every day I am in office.

    Question 3: Describe in specific terms the most important steps you would undertake to make the police department more effective.

    Harold Brazil: Washington can learn from other large cities such as Chicago, Kansas City, and New York. Throughout my tenure on the city council, I have called for an independent office of Public Safety Commissioner, with authority to supervise the police department and insulate it from political interference, and also to deal with corruption and integrity issues and coordinate Washington's various public safety agencies.

    The Commissioner's first duty should be a complete audit of the department, as Chief [Charles H.] Ramsey has requested – a far more comprehensive audit than the recent Booz-Allen study. The chief can then turn his attention to choosing good district commanders, giving them reliable data and the resources they need to do the job, and holding them accountable for achieving their goals.

    The mayor and council must give the chief the necessary funding to get the job done. I would recommend redeployment of 1,000 officers to patrol the neighborhoods, and I would create a strong team of citizens and experts to recommend a plan to eliminate guns and drugs from our city. Zero tolerance for crime and a solid partnership between the elected leadership, the MPD [Metropolitan Police Department] and our neighborhood organizations will bring us safe streets and neighborhoods.

    Question 4: What would you do to create new jobs in the city?

    Harold Brazil: During my administration, we will create over 25,000 private sector jobs. I strongly supported building a new convention center because it will create 10,000 new jobs. New hotel construction will add another 3,000 jobs by the year 2001. I also am working to develop Washington, D.C., as an "insurance gateway."

    State Farm Insurance, for example, is building a new office near New York Avenue and will bring additional jobs. The Brazil Tax Plan and my business regulatory reform legislation will add new jobs by stimulating business activity in the District. Tax incentives will attract new employers to D.C. As the next mayor, I would work with all parties to develop a tax reduction package for business expansion and job creation.

    Gimmicks won't increase the revenue base in the District. We must strive to make up the loss of population we have suffered. This will require excellent schools, safe and clean streets and neighborhoods, an array of city services efficiently delivered, and tax reform that includes a break for individual taxpayers, comparable to the rates in Maryland and Virginia.

    Finally, confidence in our city and its institutions is essential for new investment and new jobs. On the council, I voted against unbalanced budgets and submitted a balanced budget plan of my own. As the next mayor, I will continue that record.

    Question 5: Describe any issue that you see as vital to the city's future and how it would be handled under your leadership.

    Harold Brazil: My campaign is about moving our city into a better future by: 1) making our government work within its means, 2) lowering the tax burden on our overtaxed citizens, 3) restoring self-government by elected officials, 4) building a solid, equitable working relationship with the federal government, 5) improving our schools, 6) ensuring public safety, and 7) bringing new jobs and economic development.

    Structural changes are going to require changes in the Home Rule Charter. This will require the mayor, the council and citizens to sit down together and find our common ground. As mayor I will work with District residents in every neighborhood, citizens of every faith and race and philosophy. As mayor I will work with our neighbors in Maryland and Virginia. As mayor I will take the lead in our relations with the federal government.

    I believe the way to do this is to challenge Congress to bring a more positive approach to the table, and to enlist the control board as our partners in ending the control period. It is time to focus on the future. The grandstanding of elected and appointed officials must end. All of us must focus on what is best for the District.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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