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  • D.C. Voters' Guide

  •   The Mayoral Survey
    Question 4

    Thursday, August 13, 1998; Page J03

    Seven mayoral candidates whose names will appear on the ballot in the Sept. 15 party primary elections responded in writing to questions posed by The Washington Post. Their responses to the first three questions appeared in prior issues of the District Weekly. The following is the fourth question and the candidates' answers.

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

    Democratic Party

    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.

    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.

    Jack Evans: We make it difficult for businesses to operate here. We need to amend our tax structure and business fees to make the District competitive with the surrounding suburbs. Licensing, permitting, and other regulatory systems need to be reworked to minimize inconveniences to businesses while still protecting the public interest. Businesses face arduous processes and long waits to conduct even the most rudimentary transactions. The city should explore whether self-certification, contracting out or re-engineering could be a more effective means of service delivery. Educating and training our young people and adults for jobs in burgeoning fields such as information and biotechnology must be a priority. The University of the District of Columbia could be the centerpiece of such an effort. UDC could structure its course offerings to complement the labor demands of local industries, including communications, technology, banking, insurance, entertainment and hospitality. I will also focus on attracting residents back to the city. Fixing our public schools, improving basic city services, and perpetuating the decline in crime are the most attractive way to attract residents -- and the taxes they pay. In addition we must promote affordable housing to encourage the middle class to return to the city.

    Jeffrey Gildenhorn: First, we must strive for a crime-free environment to encourage businesses to stay or move back into the city. Next, we should encourage retailers to move into the District by offering an investment tax credit equal to the amount of sales tax they collect in their first year of business, provided that the retailer signs a six-year lease with the landlord. The city collects five years of taxes, and sets aside the first year to rebate the retailer over the course of the lease. Everyone benefits -- the landlord, the retailer, the consumer and the government. With more businesses moving into the District, more taxes are created, accompanied by the development of many new jobs. In wards east of the park where there is a shortage of full-service restaurants, I propose an on-site training facility -- "Hamburger College." With on-site job training, young men and women have the opportunity to become future managers and owners in the hospitality industry. Couple creative economics with publicly funded trade schools, our youth will find their way into the job market, rather than the crime market.

    Anthony A. Williams: To create new jobs in the District, we must support the growth of new and existing businesses. Drawing upon my proven track record in economic development, I will: 1) Create a business-friendly environment. Excessive regulations and outrageous tax rates create a hostile environment for businesses. I will streamline necessary regulations and eliminate unnecessary ones and strive to implement key recommendations of the Tax Revision Commission. 2) Enhance neighborhood business centers. In addition to downtown businesses, our city has many important neighborhoods and commercial corridors. I will ensure that active support and assistance are focused on these areas to promote neighborhood development. 3) Provide small business assistance. Small businesses are the engine that drives economic growth. I will focus resources on supporting small businesses, ensuring they have access to capital, access to local business networks, and full cooperation from government agencies. 4) Connecting residents to jobs. We will adopt a regional approach to employment opportunities for residents supported by quality job training and effective transportation. I will ensure that D.C. residents have access to educational programs that prepare them for the technical job opportunities that abound in the region, and I will work with the Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to assure easy access to high-employment areas.

    Republican Party

    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.

    D.C. Statehood Party

    John Gloster: We must create a sound base of human capital. First and foremost, we must improve public education through my transformation package, which includes cutting class size in half and expanding the University of the District of Columbia. The careers of the 21st century will be dependent on higher levels of education. Further, we will need to be continually retrained as adults, seldom staying in one job for life. The District's only public university is crucial to fulfilling this role. We will invest in people and raise the quality of life for all. Studies show that the factors which most determine where careers are located are: quality educational facilities; good neighborhoods; low crime; and good public amenities which make us well-rounded people, such as libraries and parks. Until we greatly raise educational opportunities, and the quality of life, our society will remain dysfunctional. No tax incentives nor government giveaways will produce good, stable jobs in such an environment, as my opponents naively, or disingenuously propose. Additionally, we must develop a five-year plan to diversify our economy away from its near-total reliance on the government and tourism. We must develop ways to spawn homespun businesses across every sector of the District.

    Next Week: The candidates are invited to describe any issue they see as vital to the city's future and explain how it would be handled under their leadership.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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