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  • D.C. Voters' Guide
  •   On the Record: Kevin P. Chavous

    Mayoral candidates responded in writing to five questions posed by The Washington Post. These are the responses of Kevin P. Chavous.

    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 Kevin Chavous
    Kevin Chavous
    (File Photo)
    Kevin P. Chavous: I do not support any change in the structure of the District government that reduces the role of elected officials. Many citizens have fought for these rights and the District will not give up representation easily. The choice to make these structural changes belongs to District citizens – not the mayor – and must be made in open forum, ratified by referendum and clarified in law. As mayor, I will facilitate these discussions.

    More important, my task as mayor is to reconnect District citizens to their government. Citizens must understand their government and have effective say in its operation. Truly democratic governments have nothing to fear through greater public participation in the decision-making process. After two years of balanced budgets, the District is moving rapidly toward return to elected government. We've paid over $20 million to consultants to verify what District citizens and civic organizations have already defined as our problems and solutions. It's time we got down and implemented the reforms and delivered the services our taxpayers expect. It's time we got over the belief that merely changing personalities or governing structures will ensure a viable reform.

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

    Kevin P. Chavous: That "most important step" has three parts: 1) reconnecting the D.C. public schools with District citizens; 2) assuring accountability; and 3) capturing federal and foundation monies. As mayor, I will direct the budget process to ensure that education is the priority. Crisis management will give way to detailed planning and budgeting, stable leadership and school-based management. And we will affirm the roles of parents and neighborhoods in sustaining school reform.

    My administration will ensure that: 1) Citizens have a voice through the elected Board of Education and through school management teams. 2) The school system has multi-year budgets, based on detailed implementation plans vetted through public review. 3) Students are prepared to learn by coordinating our youth and family services with the schools to deal with nonacademic issues such as student health and nutrition, family tensions, abuse and neglect, youth violence and truancy. 4) Neighborhoods have access to quality child care, before- and after-school programs, parent education and early childhood development programs. 5) A businesslike partnership – not just good works and donations – is established with the private sector to guide school-to-work vocational programs. 6) Partnerships are formed with the information industries and cultural, academic and professional institutions to both engage students and to support life-long learning for the larger community.

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

    Kevin P. Chavous: The safety and security of our neighborhoods is essential to the District's economic health and quality of life. Consistent, timely and efficient law enforcement must be balanced by intensive crime prevention efforts and early intervention strategies. Police misconduct cannot be tolerated. My administration will work with the MPD to support adequate budgets, management improvements, and training and technology requirements.

    We will, through properly spending federal funds and local tax dollars, enable the MPD to: 1) offer competitive salaries and benefits to both uniform and civilian employees. 2) establish a training relationship with a local university. I encourage reestablishing the cadet program to guide future officers from high school through college and ultimately to service on the MPD. 3) get more officers on the street and increase community patrols. My administration will support the expanded hiring of skilled civilian employees for desk jobs. 4) adopt up-to-date policing technologies, with training and testing. Our force will have the designated equipment, hardware and software for seamless communication with federal and regional law enforcement agencies, rapid identification of suspects and filing of police reports. 5) work with the social services and juvenile justice systems to develop policies for intensive supervision of at-risk youth, especially those in the first phase of delinquent behavior.

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

    Kevin P. Chavous: The District is constantly creating jobs, but most of the new jobs are not going to D.C. residents. The District continues to have unacceptably high numbers of unemployed job-seekers – a large percentage being minority males – in a regional economy that suffers from a labor shortage. My administration's response to this situation will be to develop incentives to retain and attract employers in the federal government and the tourism and the information technology industries and to work with employers to identify entry-level jobs to be filled with D.C. job-seekers.

    We will emphasize: 1) Skills training for those already employed. Programs such as New York's Metro Tech, which connects employers, employees and job training for specific jobs, will be established. 2) Working with the schools and the University of the District of Columbia to increase the numbers of new job-seekers with the requisite technical preparation. 3) Economic policy reform to reduce the barriers and frustrations faced by new and established businesses. 4) Facilitating competition by D.C. workers for available jobs in near-in suburbs, including transportation, job fairs and other support services such as child care. 5) Working closely with unions and employers, both to ensure fair treatment of workers and that apprenticeship opportunities are open to new workers.

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

    Kevin P. Chavous: The neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., must be stabilized, protected, served and developed. Our neighborhoods and the people who live there are the heart and soul of the District. Residents are our single largest source of revenue. Yet, major capital and economic development projects rarely leave downtown and benefit mainly commuters and tourists.

    We can not continue to base our economic development hopes on ethereal capital projects like the proposed convention center at Mount Vernon Square. With a projected cost close to $1 billion, the center promises only a 'trickle-down' benefit to our neighborhoods and, more predictably, will have a long-term negative impact. The key is to welcome people back to District neighborhoods. The most stable investment the District can have is residents invested in their jobs, homes and families.

    As mayor, my policies, budgets and programs will focus on building neighborhoods, retaining neighbors and attracting new residents and residential and business developments. To get there, we need: good schools and libraries with good teachers and administrators; parks, well-maintained with professional staff; businesses that serve the residents; safe streets, secure public spaces; economic development that makes sense first and foremost for D.C. communities; cost efficient, user-friendly service delivery. My administration will ensure that our city isn't left again with barren neighborhoods, failing small businesses and billions of dollars in debt after the developers and builders have moved on.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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