Q&A With Jack Evans
"Levey Live" appears each Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern time. It's your chance to talk directly to leading newsmakers and key Washington Post reporters and editors.
Today, we begin a series of special shows on the campaign to become the next mayor of Washington, D.C. Between now and Sept. 15, the date of the primaries, each of the leading candidates will appear on "Levey Live." The order of appearance will depend entirely on scheduling considerations.
Your questions and comments for Jack Evans are welcome throughout the hour.
Washington DC , ward 3: If elected what does he plan to do with the roads and the public recycling program in the city?
Jack Evans: The public recycling program in the city will be restored on Oct. 21. The Council passed the legislation in its July meeting. The District is in the process of repaving and fixing many roads and as mayor I will continue to re-do our roads and bridges on a constant and routine basis.
San Jose, Calif.:
I visit DC twice a year. When I was there last October, approximately fifty percent of the parking meters in the
downtown were either missing of destroyed. Why? And what
is being done to restore them?
Jack Evans: The Council approved a contract to replace all of the parking meters in the District in March. Currently all of the parking meters in downtown have been replaced with new robbery-proof meters. All of the meters in the city should be replaced within the next 9 to 12 months.
Washington, DC: What about implementing a "commuter tax" on people who work in DC but live in the surrounding area?
Jack Evans: Although I support the concept of a commuter tax, I think it is unrealistic that the District will get such a tax at this time. Therefore it is important that we focus on other means of raising revenue for our city.
Bob Levey: The Control Board will be holding the reins of power in Washington for at least 18 more months. Even after that, Capitol Hill may want (and may exert) a large share of power over city affairs. So why run for the job of Mayor when it will be relatively powerless?
Jack Evans: I want to be mayor beginning in Jan. 1999 because I can restore the power to the office of the mayor, which was taken away in 1996. As mayor I intend to work closely with Congress, the Control Board, the CMO and others to make our government work better. I believe this will result in power being restored to the mayor.
Washington, D.C.; Ward 1: Are you for or against the business gross receipts tax proposal?
Jack Evans: I am against the Business Gross Receipts Tax proposal. This is a most important issue in this election and distinguishes me from Anthony Williams, who originally proposed a gross receipts tax. Although Mr. Williams changed his position on the tax, he now supports it again. I believe a gross receipts tax will detrimentally affect many small businesses in our city and will make the District even less competitive than it now is.
Will you support the repeal of the "Same Sex Marriage" law passed a few years ago? If no
Jack Evans: The District does not have a same sex marriage law. I support the idea of same sex marriage and would support legislation.
Bob Levey: You were instrumental in choosing Charles Ramsey, the new chief of police. But you were also a major backer of former chief Larry Soulsby, who resigned in disgrace. How do you feel the public perceives your taste in police chiefs?
Jack Evans: Larry Soulsby was a very good Third District Commander. He was appointed police chief in 1995 by Mayor Barry. I became chairperson of the Judiciary Committee in 1997. During 1997 I worked closely with nine other officials assisting the police department. Crime was coming down in the city. Information concerning Larry Soulsby's shortcomings began to come to light. In retrospect, the MOU partners should have acted more quickly in addressing the issues surrounding Soulsby. I have high hopes for Chief Ramsey.
Washington, DC: I live in the Fort Dupont Park section of Southeast Washington and was heartened to see you in the neighborhood recently. I have seen no other mayoral candidate in my neighborhood this campaign, and that includes my current DC city council representative, Kevin Chavous, who is now in his second term as Ward 7 councilman. Please continue to recognize and fight for working people who want to remain in DC and see it become a great place to live once again.
Jack Evans: During the course of this campaign, I have walked in every ward of this city and will do so for the next 28 days. Because of my 20 years of experience in this area, I have a unique understanding of this city and its people and will bring that to the mayor's office.
Bob Levey: Low voter turnouts in Washington are a legend. If that happens again in the primaries, will it hurt you or help you?
Jack Evans: My approach to winning this election is to touch as many people as possible, to identify my voters and to make sure they turn out on election day. Regardless of the turnout, I believe we will win this election because my organization is by far the strongest and our voters will show up and vote.
Washington: When you say you'll be able to restore power to the office of mayor, you essentially imply that you'll be able to deal with Congress (and a Republican Congress, at that) better than Mr.Barry ever did. Why should voters believe this to be true?
Jack Evans: During my time on the Council, I have served as the regional representative for the District. For two of the last four years I have served as chair of the board of Metro and have served as chair of the board of the Council of Governments. These positions have brought me into contact with many regional elected officials and members of Congress. I have good working relationships with these individuals and have earned their respect. Thus, I am uniquely qualified to deal with Congress and the region.
washington, dc: What makes you think Black people want a blue-eyed white Mayor in a mostly Black city?
Jack Evans: The citizens of the District of Columbia, both black and white, are looking for the best person to be mayor regardless of that person's skin color. I believe my experience and commitment to this city, as evidenced by my local involvement and track record, qualifies me as the best candidate for mayor.
Washington DC: What initiatives would you use to encourage economic development along the green line especially in the Mt. Vernon Square. and Shaw area? Partnerships with Howard U?
Jack Evans: First, we must make the District of Columbia competitive with Maryland and Virginia. This means lowering taxes, revising our regulations, and changing our workers comp and employment comp laws so that they are competitive with the surrounding jurisdictions. In the Shaw area, I believe the new proposed convention center will stimulate a lot of economic development. The center is predicted to create 10,000 jobs for District residents.
Half an hour remaining with our guest, D.C. mayoral candidate Jack Evans.
Boston, MA: I live in Boston but am intimately familiar with DC politics and am moving back at the end of the month. What does Mr. Evans think about the Post article last week which implied that he has "alienated" some black voters with his campaign style?
Jack Evans: Actually, the article stated that my campaign style has been effective in making people, both black and white, more comfortable with the race issue. The issue of race comes up at all of my gatherings and I will continue to address it head-on throughout the remainder of this campaign.
Bob Levey: You have taken dead aim at Anthony Williams in the last few weeks of the campaign (and just did so here in your answer to the question about a gross receipts tax). Is Williams your strongest competition? Is he the man to beat?
Jack Evans: I refer to Anthony Williams as a celebrity candidate. He only moved into the District in April of 1996, and did so because the law required him to. He is a virtual unknown to most people and has no track record outside of being CFO. Although he has caught on with the voters, I think it is very dangerous to elect someone mayor that we know so little about and who has constantly flip-flopped on issues at the candidate forums. I encourage everyone in the next 28 days to take a hard look at all of the candidates.
I visited DC with my family for the 5th straight year this spring. While the district looks pretty good, the number of people panhandling in Georgetown (near the Mall)seems to be as rampant as ever. Do you have any plans to combat this problem?
Jack Evans: I have sponsored and gotten passed several pieces of legislation to address aggressive panhandling in the city. Also, the business improvement districts, which are being set up in the commercial areas, will go a long way toward alleviating the panhandling problem. As mayor, I intend to focus on programs to alleviate homelessness in the city.
Washington, D.C.: What is your position on allowing concealed carry of handguns in D.C (with an appropriate permit)similar to that of surrounding Virginia counties and other jurisdictions?
Jack Evans: I support the current District law which prohibits the ownership or possession of handguns in the District of Columbia. I would hope that the citizens of Virginia and Maryland would begin moving toward limiting the number of handguns and certainly to prohibit concealed weapons.
Bob Levey: As you've mentioned, you support a cut in workmen's compensation benefits. But will that really be reason enough for a D.C. business not to move to Maryland or Virginia? And how do you square your position on this issue with the position of organized labor, which loves workmen's comp and always has?
Jack Evans: The premium levels for businesses for workers compensation in the District are three to four times those in Maryland and Virginia. A though there are many reasons businesses leave the city or do not locate here, the high workers compensation premiums rank among the top. Lowering those premiums, plus the other suggestions I have made, will create a more business friendly environment. Obviously, I do not agree with labor's position on this issue.
Washington, DC: If you become Mayor of Washington, DC, what would be the first thing you would do to improve this city and why should I vote for you?
Jack Evans: I would sit down with Alice Rivlin, Camille Barnett, and the Chief Financial Officer and put in place a working arrangement to run the city. My primary focuses would be on improving the public school system, making the police department work better, delivering reliable city services and creating economic opportunities for our residents.
Washington DC: Do you think that the mayor of DC should follow Rudolph Guilliani's example in NYC in how he has cleaned up the seedier parts of the town and spurred economic development in the city? If so, how will you do so?
Jack Evans: As mayor I would follow the example Ed Rendel in Philadelphia, Mike White in Cleveland, and Giuliani in New York. Giuliani focused on enforcing the laws of New York and on bringing order to the city. I would implement the best of his ideas to improve the quality of life for the residents of Washington, DC, and make this a safer, cleaner town.
Washington, DC: For the school system, you propose making drastic cuts in the administration and returning administrators to the classroom. Will these returning teachers (most likely with greater seniority) replace current, perhaps better, teachers? Or will the total number of teachers in the classroom be increased?
Jack Evans: I support reducing the number of administrators and using the savings to hire more teachers and better pay the ones we have. I would not replace current existing good teachers under any circumstances.
Ward 2, DC: Would you seek to end the vast system of cronyism and playing favorites in contract letting for the District? How would you open up this process?
Jack Evans: Yes I would end cronyism in our government. Enforcing the new procurement regulations passed by the Council should go a long way toward ending these bad practices. Some of the concern about the Tony Williams campaign is his aligning himself with many of the cronies of past administrations. We must make a clean break with the past.
Bob Levey: The word on Jack Evans is that he isn't an exciting stump speaker. Some unkind scribes have even reported that you have a touch of Al Gore in your veins. Is Jack Evans going to break out as an electric campaigner in the next month?
Jack Evans: Probably not. I think the citizens of the city are looking for a capable, competent mayor, not a charismatic mayor. We have voted based on charisma for too long without good results.
Washington, D.C.: In addition to the tax break for new home buyers in the District, what other incentives will you as mayor be able to offer the residents and potential residents of the District of Columbia?
Jack Evans: Better schools, safer streets, reliable city services and economic opportunities for all of our residents. These are the hallmarks of my candidacy for mayor.
Ward 2: You lead in fundraising, shouldn't we be concerned about your being indebted to these folks just as we should Mr. Williams and the other candidates. What makes you different?
Jack Evans: I believe that people contribute to my campaign because they believe I will be the best mayor. I have raised much money in my political career, but do not feel indebted to anyone. Everyone in this city, regardless of whether they contribute to me, has equal access. I will continue that as mayor.
Washington, D.C.; Ward 1: What are the major differences between your positions and those of the likely Republican nominee, Ms. Schwartz?
Jack Evans: The major differences are my record of achievement on the Council during the last seven years. I have been responsible for crafting the President's plan, which led to the fiscal stability of the city. Carol voted against it. I support gay marriage; Carol opposes it.
Bob Levey: Metrorail seems to be doing quite well, both in D.C. and around the region. But Metrobus is suffering, and possibly coming apart at the seams. How would a D.C. Mayor help correct the fade in bus popularity?
Jack Evans: As a member of the Regional Mobility Panel, I helped craft a program to save Metrobus. During the next five years, residents in the region should see a dramatic improvement in bus service and buses themselves. Just last week, the District, Virginia, Maryland and the Federal government entered into a historic agreement to fund Metro's rehabilitation program at $100 million a year.
Bob Levey: Whoever the next mayor is, he or she will follow Marion Barry--who has made many waves, to put it mildly. Is Marion Barry a good or a bad act to follow?
Jack Evans: Mayor Barry certainly has left a mixed legacy. His programs for the youth and the seniors are excellent and I intend to continue my support of them. Because of his personal problems, the image of the city has been hurt. As mayor, I believe I will improve the image of the city and make Washington the great city it can be.
That's it for today. Thanks to our guest, D.C. mayoral candidate Jack Evans. Be sure to join us next Tuesday, Aug. 25, when our guest will be Democratic mayoral candidate Harold Brazil. On Aug. 26, we will present a special edition of "Levey Live" with Republican candidate Carol Schwartz.