Q&A With Carol Schwartz
Welcome to "Levey Live." I'm Washington Post columnist Bob Levey, your host.
"Levey Live" normally appears each Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. Today, we offer a special edition…another in a series of shows devoted to the campaign for mayor of Washington, D.C.
Schwartz, 54, has twice been elected to at-large seats on the D.C. Council. She has also served two terms on the D.C. Board of Education. She has been the Republican candidate for mayor twice before…in 1986 and 1994. Each time, she was defeated by the incumbent, Marion Barry.
Capitol Hill, DC: Though I am a lifelong Democrat, I welcomed your presence on the City Council. You've added an important new channel of communication with the Congress and greatly reduced the District bashing by Republican Congressmen. Yet I wonder what possible chance a white Republican has of winning a single precinct east of Rock Creek Park. And, given the fiscal conservatism of all the major Democratic contenders (especially front runner Tony Williams) , how do you differ on the policy issues?
Carol Schwartz: I welcome the question. I have already proven I can win precincts east of Rock Creek Park in my past two elections for Mayor, as well as my Council races. And today, my support in other sections of the city is better than ever. Just yesterday, at 9th and O, in Shaw, a voter said to me, "You're the man!" As I drive around Anacostia, people yell out, "You go girl!" I see a big difference in the number of supporters in Anacostia today. Remember, I've been here before. I can compare.
Bob Levey: You sent all three of your children to D.C. public schools. Would you do so today?
Carol Schwartz: Yes. The test scores are no worse today than they were in the years that my children attended public schools. And by the way, my D.C. graduate son, just received a Fulbright to study journalism in Spain.
Washington, DC: Carol, I'm a huge fan of yours. However, I'm curious that if you don't get elected as Mayor, what happens? Will you have an opportunity to serve on city council? Basically, I don't wanna lose you if you don't get to be mayor. And the race for Mayor, promises to be more interesting than it has been in years!
Carol Schwartz: Thanks for being a huge fan. I like you too. Let's not even talk about what happens if I don't get to be Mayor, because this time I will be elected.
Bob Levey: Unlike any of the other candidates, you have actually run for Mayor before. Does that make you a better candidate, or just a more experienced one?
Carol Schwartz: I feel that I am far more experienced, not just because I have run for Mayor two times before, but because of my 33 years in this city. And my years of commitment on the Board of Education, the Council, and out in the community. I know the problems, I know the people, I know the players. I can hit the ground running Day One.
Washington DC: I live on Capitol Hill it seems that every time there’s a water or sewer line break the Dept. of Public Works rips up the road and the sidewalk they never return either to the way they found it. Usually the sidewalks are patched with some sort of temporary asphalt and left as a permanent replacement while the road repair is left to pothole patrol. Many of us could EASILY move over to Old Town and capture the same charm and feel of the Hill w/ out the headaches. Do you have any plan to better take care of Washington’s historical neighborhoods?
Carol Schwartz: Call my Council office at 202-724-8105 and ask for Sharona, and we will start working on the water break problem immediately. So don't move to Old Town yet. As far as historic neighborhoods, they are one of our city's greatest assets. Just this week, on the Council, I voted on legislation which will continue to preserve historic houses.
DC, Ward 7: As the Republican candidate for the Mayor of D.C. what is your position on the proposed convention center?
Carol Schwartz: I favor it because I did not want to see a new convention center end up in Old Town, as our Redskins ended up in Raljon. I want those conventioneers here in the city spending their money and providing jobs for our citizens.
Bob Levey: Your views on racial and sexual discrimination are pretty clear. For example, you refuse to allow racial jokes to be told in your presence, and your associates and friends are of both sexes and all races. But you are obviously whiter and female-er than any other candidate. Does this work for you or against you?
Carol Schwartz: It's probably a wash. I've been around so long and so many people have gotten to know me on a personal basis that they forgive me whatever perceived handicaps others might think I have.
DC: What rationale can you honestly give me for staying in DC and not moving to the burbs like everyone else?
Carol Schwartz: Because I'm here and I'm going to be your Mayor and things are going to get better. Besides, you'll lose the benefits of this beautiful city with its vitality and marvelous diversity if you left us. So please don't go.
Bob Levey: Everyone has a story about calling the D.C. government and getting hung up on, transferred to death, disconnected, connected to someone rude or incompetent--sometimes all four. What will you do to correct this?
Carol Schwartz: I will make sure that--number one--someone answers the phone. And number two, that the person who answers, likes people. Seriously, government work is public service, and to me it means just that--serving the public. I will work to train our workers on how to do it the right way, but if they are incapable or refuse to do it, then they will need to look for employment elsewhere.
Washington, DC: As a single person living in the District, I am most concerned with "quality of life" issues in my neighborhood: litter, the lack of street trash cans, dead and dying trees that haven't been replaced, street lamps that look as if they are about to topple over. How can you make a difference on these issues. Will you make them a priority? Bill Rapp
Carol Schwartz: Yes, I will make the quality of life issues a priority.
Half an hour remaining with our guest, Republican mayoral candidate Carol Schwartz.
Bob Levey: Let's say Carol Schwartz wins the mayor's job and the Republicans keep control on Capitol Hill. Will that Republican partnership be more fruitful than previous Democrat-to-Democrat partnerships?
Carol Schwartz: Absolutely. I have a decent relationship with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. I think I can be very effective in getting our nation's capital the benefits it needs and deserves from the federal government--and also very effective in getting them to back off when they try to trample on the democratic rights of the citizens of Washington, D.C.
Washington DC: First of all I'd like to salute you for showing some integrity regarding the treatment of our Mayor. I'll never forget your threat or pledge to vowed support for Marion Barry re-election if your fellow republican legislators didn't stop harassing our Mayor and disrespecting the citizens of DC. That was better than most of the other coucilmembers, but my question Carol......Why are you a republican? You're sorta the Colin Powell of the local GOP party.....confused(hahaha) Seriously why are you a GOP? Do you feel this makes it easier to network with white constituents in the city? Your causes and committment seems to conflict with your party's platform? So why should we in DC think you'll ever have the concerns of black in the forefront.
Carol Schwartz: I have never wanted to be part of this one-party system, which has never brought us the good government we deserve and pay highly for. If we were an overwhelmingly Republican city with the same problems, I would be a Democrat. My politics of being a fiscal conservative and a social moderate/liberal could fit within either of the major parties. Another reason I choose now to stay a Republican is because I do not want the Grand Old Party of Lincoln and Douglas to go off the charts on the right side.
Damascus, Maryland: Ms. Schwartz, Thomas Jefferson once wrote that "advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper". Do you believe that your ideas and goals for this city have been properly represented in the media, and in your opinion, has your candidacy been covered fairly?
Carol Schwartz: No, my candidacy has not been covered adequately or fairly, but that is not new news. I have always been discounted except when the votes are counted.
Bob Levey: Every mayoral candidate says the city needs to recapture home rule, or extend it, but no one has described a specific way to do that, or a timetable. Can you? Will you?
Carol Schwartz: Recapturing home rule is a very high priority with me. I cannot give you an exact time that it will be accomplished, but it will be sooner than later. I will use all my clout, all my competence to see it achieved. It is unconscionable that over half a million citizens of the nation's capital in this great democracy of the United States should be denied the rights of self-determination that we are fighting for for others around the world.
Capitol Hill, DC: Alexandria, Virginia is a popular place for Washingtonians to "migrate" to because of its relative safety and charm. Part of the attraction of Alexandria is its waterfront development in Old Town. Do you support a plan to redevelop the Washington Marina into the image of an "Old Town?" How do you propose to reduce the out-migration problem in D.C.?
Carol Schwartz: I would love to see our riverways cleaned up and their shores put to safe and charming uses for all of us to enjoy. It is part of my economic development plans for our city. We can reduce the out-migration by competing with safe streets, good schools, better city services and lower taxes. I intend to do all four.
Bob Levey: I hear a lot of people around town saying that they voted for Barry in 1994, but should have voted for you. How does that make you feel?
Carol Schwartz: Redemptive. I have often said of the 1994 election that I could overcome the racial disparity to a large degree; I could overcome the political disparity as well. But redemption proved to be too much for me to overcome. And that was the main basis of the '94 campaign. So it now does feel good to have people say that they should have voted for me. Here's their chance to do it right.
Bob Levey: The question of a gross receipts tax on D.C. businesses has become a major issue among your Democratic opponents. Where do you stand on it?
Carol Schwartz: Against.
Bob Levey: Any views on the possible retrocession of the District of Columbia to Maryland?
Carol Schwartz: If I had wanted to live in Maryland, I would have moved there years ago.
Falls Church, VA: Tell us your opinions about DC Statehood and if you support such an action.
Carol Schwartz: Full voting rights in the U.S. Congress--YES. Statehood--NO. I like having the unique status of being the nation's capital instead of being one of the smallest states in the union. I also always worried that we would go bankrupt as a state, as we had no agriculture or industry to keep us going--something we managed to do without even having statehood. I believe we can get the full voting rights we deserve, either through the court case, which has been filed, or by reactivating the Voting Rights Amendment, which failed to get the necessary states to ratify in 1985.
Bob Levey: The Control Board will be in firm control of daily city business for at least another 18 months. Why then does Carol Schwartz (or anyone else, for that matter) want to be mayor?
Carol Schwartz: Because I want to make sure that the Control Board is gone when it is supposed to be gone. The office of Mayor is a dissipated version of the one I ran for in 1986 and in 1994. That concerns me. But on the other hand, the desire to get Home Rule back provides additional motivation for me.
That's it for today's special edition. Thanks to our guest, Carol Schwartz. Be sure to join us tomorrow from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern time for another special mayoral campaign show. Our guest will be D.C. Council member Kevin Chavous, a candidate for the Democratic nomination.