On the Record: Carol Schwartz
Mayoral candidates responded in writing to five questions posed by The Washington Post. These are the responses of Carol Schwartz.
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.
As in any governmental structure, conscientious, competent and courageous leadership is the answer. Since the enactment of home rule there exists the position of city administrator. That is the opportunity I would use to get that top-notch experienced "city manager" type to run the day-to-day operations of the city. But that person would report to me as mayor and be accountable to me and the citizens who elected me. City managers per se are no panacea. Miami had one and failed abysmally. New York has a strong-mayor form of government and has succeeded.
There again, it is not the form, but the leadership. Any decision related to the structure of government after the control board should be decided by the citizens of D.C. I would be happy to lead that discussion as mayor.
Question 2: Detail the single most important step you would take as mayor to improve the city's schools.
Carol Schwartz: Although the mayor has little authority over the schools, she has a moral responsibility to ensure that education is returned to the high priority of yesteryear. I would make certain that all agencies under my purview participate in the educational process. With the help of business, recreation centers and libraries would have computers with universal programs needed to survive in today's technological world.
Day care and before- and after-school programs run by the Department of Recreation and Parks would provide learning experiences coordinated with the curriculum being taught in schools. Working with libraries and schools, the Department would offer weekend and after-school training in test-taking for standardized tests and SATs so that children of families who cannot afford private institutions have the opportunity to succeed.
I will coordinate tutoring and mentoring programs between the Office of Aging and the schools, including adult education programs, which I would expand. I will support UDC [the University of the District of Columbia]. As a former School Board member, a parent of three children who only attended D.C. Public Schools and as a product of public schools and a state university myself, I know first-hand that public education can work and I will prove it.
Question 3: Describe in specific terms the most important steps you would undertake to make the police department more effective.
Carol Schwartz: Our police department should represent the moral authority of our government. If it is not beyond reproach, the very foundation of our society is shaken. As mayor, working with the police chief, I will make certain our police force is well-trained, well-equipped, well-paid and visible. I want to see stringent background checks and training which includes ethics and diversity awareness.
I want a police force where members who report wrongdoing and make suggestions for improvements are rewarded, not punished. Because of allegations within the police department, I offered the roughest whistleblower protections legislation in the country, which is now law. It was testimony I requested on my whistleblower bill which brought about the council's in-depth police investigative hearings that should lead to improvements in the department.
Civilian oversight is a must, and I will work with the council in ensuring the reestablishment of a review board. I want to stop the exodus of well-trained and experienced officers. Competitive salaries will help. But, equally important, I want to bring our men and women in blue the respect they once had. D.C.'s finest will mean just that once again.
Question 4: What would you do to create new jobs in the city?
Carol Schwartz: I am concerned about our 9 percent unemployment rate -- triple the national average -- and as high as 22 percent in some areas of our city. Creating jobs would be a high priority. I would adopt a more business-friendly attitude. Procedures for opening and maintaining a business should not alienate but support. There should be "one stop" shopping licensing, permits and information on financing possibilities such as tax increment financing. Our taxes must also be competitive.
I attempted to reduce sales taxes ten years ago and will continue to push for business tax reductions. My bill to provide free parking on Saturdays and evenings passed the Council and took effect in mid-July. I want a booming downtown and economic development in our neighborhoods -- not just liquor stores, but clothing stores, shoe stores, and barber shops.
I was the first to bring the idea of empowerment zones forward in 1988 and would push to get federal funding to bring it to fruition. Since many jobs are in the suburbs, I will coordinate efforts (including transportation and training) to get unemployed District residents to where the jobs are -- and hopefully more of them will be here in the future when I am mayor.
Question 5: Describe any issue that you see as vital to the city's future and how it would be handled under your leadership.
Carol Schwartz: First and foremost, I want to restore the morale of our city. I believe my sense of urgency and hands-on approach to problems as well as my optimism will help. I want to see our city made clean again. I want to re-plant trees, clean streets, parks and alleys, fix our potholes.
I want to see a healthy city. We are number one in too many categories -- highest infant mortality, highest AIDS rate, highest prostate cancer. I want to turn that around by strengthening both our health infrastructure (including drug treatment) and health education efforts. Our youth and their future concern me -- too many teenage pregnancies and too much violence. I want educational, recreational and job opportunities for youth and I will provide them. I want to bring people together.
I have seen firsthand that familiarity breeds tolerance and even warmth. I want to see a city that works and will give more than full time to see that it happens. And with that will come the return of the over 200,000 residents that we have lost and the return of pride -- pride that we are fortunate to live in the greatest and most beautiful city in the world.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company