Mayoral Debate: On Gambling and Race
The Ministers Conference of Washington and Vicinity invited five of the mayoral candidates to a session last week at which members of the clergy questioned them about their views on various issues.
The invited candidates were former D.C. chief financial officer Anthony A. Williams and four members of the D.C. Council: Harold Brazil (D-At Large), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7) and Carol Schwartz (R-At Large). The responses have been edited for clarity.
Citing past efforts to bring riverboat gambling to the District, the Rev. George C. Gilbert asked whether the candidates supported legalized gambling other than the lottery in the city.
CHAVOUS: Let's be honest, if we are going to have a lottery, let's make sure those funds are tied into education. I am absolutely against riverboat gambling and additional gaming in the city.
SCHWARTZ: I, too, am opposed to any other gaming. I know we have a lottery board, but not any other gaming. I am certainly against riverboat gambling. I would like to see our river area developed so we can enjoy it and walk on it, but I don't want gambling to be any part of that economic development.
WILLIAMS: I agree wholeheartedly with Kevin that riverboat gambling, or any type of additional gambling in the city, is not a good thing because gambling is essentially what we call a regressive tax that falls mostly on lower-income and working middle-income citizens who can rarely afford to put the kind of money into gambling that they do. I feel very, very strongly that we should mitigate revenue from the lottery. . . . I believe that we should look at, over time, finding alternatives to the lottery.
BRAZIL: I agree with my panel members. We don't need to go in that direction. I also agree that we should increase the portion of the lottery funds to go directly to education . . . to fund smaller class sizes and use some of that money to fund a building program of smaller, smarter schools.
EVANS: I don't support riverboat gambling. More money from the lottery should be earmarked for education.
The Rev. David Chaplin, vice president of the National Baptist Convention USA, asked the candidates how they planned to deal with the problems of race in the District.
WILLIAMS: The mayor has to be a role model in setting the tone for the city, setting the agenda by who the mayor contracts. We set the agenda by who we appoint to lead our city. The mayor, especially now, when our city is divided, the mayor has to unite our city around priority goals, first and foremost educating our children.
EVANS: As the representative of a very diverse ward for the last seven years, I have had a lot of experience in a diverse community, and I can assure, right up front, that an Evans administration will reflect the diversity of the District of Columbia.
One of the things we have to do, especially in the business area, is enforce the laws that we have. All new hires in construction projects must be District residents, and 35 percent of contracts must go to small, disadvantaged contractors -- and the District of Columbia doesn't monitor that. Large contractors get away with violating our laws, and in an Evans administration, that won't happen.
BRAZIL: I heard two questions, one, racism, and two, how do you deal with race on a more positive side. For racism, you have to admit it exists, it's deep. Black people can be as racist as white people. Whenever it raises its ugly head, you confront it straight on. I have a black female that runs my campaign.
I have a white female that runs my office. Now that's good, that's affirmative action, that's good. But I didn't pick either one because they were black or white. I picked them because they were the most competent.
CHAVOUS: Racism is real. Growing up in Indiana, I faced it every day. As mayor, we have to make sure that we fund those entities in the government that deal with racism. If you file a discrimination complaint, it shouldn't sit in the office of human rights for two, three, four years. We also need to do what the control board has not: follow our laws dealing with small and disadvantaged businesses. We are going to make sure that our local small and disadvantaged business get their fair share.
SCHWARTZ: I fight racism wherever it comes from. No one is allowed to tell a joke around me that is racial in nature. I am intolerant. My offices, both on the school board, on the council and in charity work, have always been reflective of a diversity in this city, not just racial, but political diversity.
My social life is a very diverse life, when it comes to friends, when it comes to people I hang out with, and it is sort of sad when people isolate themselves into pockets in this city and don't interact. I am going to bring us together. I have done it in my social life. I have done it in my political life.
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