Many 'Others' Join Race for D.C. Mayor
Friday, October 2, 1998
Most candidates use polls to gauge voters’ impressions of them. John G. Gloster Jr., the chairman and mayoral nominee for the D.C. Statehood Party, is launching a poll just to make an impression with voters.
Gloster knows polls by the media or his major party contenders will likely ask voters to choose from the Democrat, the Republican and "other." His own poll might be the first time some hear his name.
"My name isn’t ‘other’," Gloster says. "So I have to distinguish myself."
While most have billed the Nov. 3 election as a race between Democrat Anthony A. Williams and Republican Carol Schwartz, voters will find a half-dozen other names when they scan the ballot.
Each of those independent and third-party hopefuls proudly and dutifully declare victory is at hand. Some confidently offer Election Day scenarios in which Williams and Schwartz tear into each others’ base and open to the door for a third contender. Each also knows such a win would fly firmly against history and the rules of politics.
Schwartz and Williams have paid campaign staffs and drivers, six-figure contribution coffers, steady requests for campaign appearances and little problem attracting the media.
Being an independent candidate typically means scheduling a news conference and hoping someone attends, fighting to participate in forums the major candidates might prefer to miss, relying on Metro or carpools to get to events where your handshakes and name prompt puzzled looks. It also sometimes means being unfairly lumped together as long shots, loonies or crusaders.
But each of this year’s lesser-known hopefuls has a purpose or platform. Each also labored to get on the ballot, standing at bus stops and supermarkets to collect required signatures 3,000 for independents. Here’s a snapshot of the candidates:
Brian Patrick Moore
This will be Moore’s fourth bid for mayor in as many election cycles, and his message has changed only slightly over time. The 55-year-old executive recruiter says the city is in shambles and only an outsider like him without allegiance to political or business circles can clean it up.
He says the board should retain and expand its authority and conduct sweeping audits of every District department and agency. The audits, he suggests, will lead to an efficient restructuring of the city government, the identification of wasted money, and a budget savings of least 20 percent.
He also wants to halt construction of the convention center.
Moore, who is single, says he spends most nights and weekends working on his campaign. He launched a Web site on which he placed his platform and a collection of more than a dozen press releases, including one titled "Nobody, Including Me, Knows How to Run This City."
Moore’s highest election tally came during a 1984 run for city council, when he drew 18,497 votes. Four years ago, he ran as a Republican and won 640 votes in the primary.
He suggests this might be his final run for mayor, describing this campaign as more physically and emotionally draining than the past ones. Short of winning, he says, his best hope on Nov. 3 is to get about 7,500 votes and "to survive with my dignity."
Alpha Estes Brown
The Rev. Alpha Estes Brown offers a simple mantra to describe how he would make the city government more efficient, its citizens healthier, its neighborhoods cleaner, safer and more appealing: "Put children first."
Specifically, he would introduce legislation to raise the excise tax on tobacco and alcohol, ban all advertising for such products in areas where children play or go to school, review the role of the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, and establish an agency to coordinate youth activities and programs.
Known as an advocate for children but a first-time candidate, Brown has long campaigned that much of the District’s social, criminal and ultimately, its financial problems have roots in alcohol abuse by it citizens.
He pledges to close any outlet that sells alcohol to minors and takes credit for helping to reduce the number of liquor stores citywide by 300 in the past five years.
"It means nothing to me to give up all my time, everything I’ve got to help a child," he says.
Brown, a D.C. native, is a recovering alcoholic and onetime heroin addict who holds nine educational degrees, including an MBA and a law degree from Howard University, master's degrees in education and health science from Johns Hopkins University, and a master's of divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary.
He’s enlisted homeless volunteers to help him distribute 100,000 campaign leaflets and hang 10,000 signs and lured Bill Lightfoot, an independent and a former D.C. Council member, to chair his campaign.
John G. Gloster Jr.
Gloster, 37, is an independent financial planner who moved from Maryland to Anacostia five years ago and soon after joined the D.C. Statehood Party. He won its mayoral nomination with 240 votes out of 379 cast.
Gloster advocates reducing class size by half in the District schools, a move he estimates would cost $80 million but could be funded by halting the convention center project. He also wants to spend $40 million annually which he says would come from the city’s surplus to expand the University of the District of Columbia.
To stir the city’s economy, Gloster proposes establishing a quasi-governmental agency that would partially guarantee bank loans for companies and small businesses that locate or expand in the city. He believes such a partnership would encourage businesses to grow and entice lending institutions to back them.
This is his first bid for public office, and Gloster, who is single, estimates he is spending 40 hours a week campaigning and hopes to raise $15,000 for his candidacy. The party has begun airing radio ads and plans cable television ads promoting its slate of candidates. But much of the work is left to the candidate and a handful of volunteers.
"So many of the things we do, we have to do ourselves," he says.
Ceccone, 52, can’t recall exactly how many times he has been a candidate. His past campaigns, dating to 1974, have included GOP bids for the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate and most recently, Montgomery county executive. None was successful.
He also cites another reason for him to care: his 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter attend D.C. public schools.
He called the planned convention center "a white elephant" and says he would halt the $650 million bond issue to fund it. Instead, he’d channel the money into modernization plans for police stations, schools, fire stations and roads.
Ceccone also supports a review of existing zoning regulations and either a residency requirement for city employees or an income tax for city workers who live outside its boundaries.
Like most of his independent counterparts, Ceccone gripes at the lack of attention his campaign has drawn. He says he won’t devote much money or time to the campaign unless the media and public recognize him as a credible candidate.
"The big story of the campaign," he says, "is that obviously people don’t care."
For Manuel and his fellow Socialist Workers Party members, the race for mayor is less about winning than it is about finding a platform to introduce their message of resistance and organize the working class.
Manuel, a 48-year-old Conrail conductor who lives with his wife in Manor Park, has been a Socialist Worker since age 19. He arrived in the District a decade ago, after a history that includes campaigns for Los Angeles mayor and California governor. He has twice lost campaigns to be D.C. delegate to the House of Representatives.
His message tends to be more global advocating support for Cuba, Third World laborers, and revolution against the ruling rich.
But if elected, Manuel says, he would not recognize the authority of the D.C. financial control board or the appointed school board trustees. He also would propose legislation reducing the work week for private and public D.C. laborers to 30 hours while keeping pay equivalent to 40 hours. Such a move would ease workloads and stir more jobs, he says.
Still, Manuel says, even the local issues are not truly local.
"There is no D.C. crisis and there is no D.C. solution," he says. "The crisis is a crisis of capitalism."
She appears on the ballot the same way she introduces herself and prefers to be known, simply as "Faith." And for some voters, it might be enough identification. It’s highly unlikely there is another bugle-blowing, statehood-demanding, arts-crazy Adams Morgan resident named Faith.
But her platform has changed little during this and her four previous bids for mayor. Dane says the city’s residents should use a referendum to establish it as an independent state and hand much of the authority to the Neighborhood Advisory Commissions.
She also advocates public funding for the creation of arts programs and instruction for youth. Her concept, Dubbed Roosevelt’s Stars War program and modeled after a New Deal program, would enlist entertainment stars to teach students via satellite. It follows her goal to establish the District as an international intercultural arts haven.
Some say she’s nuts, Dane concedes, but she prefers "flamboyant" or "eccentric." The bugle follows her everywhere. She toots it at public forums and events, adding a musical exclamation point when needed.
She’ll spend no more than $250 on the campaign and says she is re-using old campaign signs.
"It’s not probable that I get elected," Dane says, "but it’s very possible."
John P. Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 703-469-3179.
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