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  • D.C. Voters' Guide
  •   The Mayoral Survey
    Question 5

    Thursday, August 20, 1998; Page J06

    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 four questions appeared in prior issues of the District Weekly. The following is the fifth and last question and the candidates' answers.

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

    Democratic Party

    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.

    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.

    Jack Evans: Chronic problems with overall city management and the delivery of services are the most universally felt problems citywide. In response, I will structure a city government that is continually improving and adapting itself to changing technologies and customer service expectations.

    All across the country municipalities are experiencing success in innovation, experimentation, and self-renewal. We need to develop a spirit among city employees that motivates them to excel and serve the citizens in an exemplary manner. We need a system that focuses on solutions and results, not just on adherence to rules and regulations.

    Possible innovations would include benchmarking, which compares our record to the best practices of other cities; competition between public and private agencies or between various public sector agencies; an Innovation Bank where city agencies could borrow against future budgets to implement reforms; agency-wide bonuses for agencies that exceed goals; a Citizen Scorecard, which would allow citizens to judge city agencies against agreed upon service standards. Finally, I would require every line manager, starting with the mayor, to spend one day a month in a customer service position or in the field to observe firsthand how services are delivered.

    Jeffrey Gildenhorn: Reduction of personal income tax and "buy and sell" economics. I propose to rebate 25 percent of the taxes paid in by the D.C. taxpayer in the form of a voucher, which must be spent on goods and services in the District of Columbia within the same year (thus guaranteeing that the money remains in the city).

    This proposal has a pyramiding effect, generating a self-perpetuating economy. The vouchers collected by the merchants would be redeemed by the D.C. government and reimbursed to the merchant. I also propose a concept called "Buy and Sell" economics. There are areas in Washington, D.C., that have not been rebuilt since the riots of 1968.

    Boarded-up businesses permeate 14th Street, New York Avenue, New Jersey Avenue, Bladensburg Road, and Chinatown to name a few.

    Solution: Let the government buy the properties and raze them (which will eliminate a blight to both residents and tourists); then re-sell them to developers at bargain prices with a condition that the developer must build within a specified period of time.

    Anthony A. Williams: This is the most important election in recent history for the District of Columbia, for it will determine the form of government in the city for years to come. District residents are demanding a mayor who can deliver basic services, restore credibility to government, and return self-government to the city.

    I am the one candidate with a proven track record and the ability to deliver the results citizens deserve. I restored financial accountability in each city agency so they could begin to deliver better services to residents. As the city's Chief Financial Officer, I made a commitment to residents to clean up the finances within a year or resign. I delivered on that commitment.

    I stand ready to commit to make the government work for everyone -- especially for single mothers moving from welfare to work; for senior citizens that need quality services; and for working families that need safe and affordable health care.

    I will work closely with Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton to stand eye-to-eye with Congress to fight for what is rightfully ours -- self-government and self-determination for the people of the District.

    Republican Party

    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.

    D.C. Statehood Party

    John Gloster: We must end corporate welfare, cronyism and corruption. The status quo has been giving away the candy store to large corporate concerns. For example, the government has $1 billion to spend on a new convention center, which will primarily benefit the Marriott Corporation and the suburbs. Meanwhile we do not have money for UDC and our public schools.

    This must end. Secondly, we must change our stance on housing and protect renters. We must retain rent control to maintain affordable rents, and to reduce the tendency to price renters out of buildings. Additionally, I will introduce a new program called "Renter's Maintenance Insurance", which would operate like unemployment insurance.

    Each month a small portion of one's rent would go into a pool, so that one's rent could be paid for six months if the renter is unexpectedly laid off. In the meantime, we will work to convert all renters into owners. Owners are invested in their neighborhoods and their neighbors, and pay property taxes, while accumulating assets.

    Thirdly, for every dollar spent on incarceration, we will spend a dollar on intervention programs designed to keep people from a life of crime. We cannot afford to give up on our youth.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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