Candidates were asked:
1. Two of the major problems facing city residents are the availability of affordable housing and rising property taxes. If elected, what would you do to alleviate these problems in your ward?
2. Which city services are most in need of improvement in your ward, and if elected, what would you do to improve them?
3. In your opinion, what is the major problem in the city and how do you plan to address it? Democrats Robert I. Artisst, 45, of 1353 Otis St. NE, is an associate professor at the University of the District of Columbia.
1. A great portion of our city is confronted with affordable housing and relief of boarded up properties. There are still houses that can and must be placed in an accessible avenue to residents of this city, who do wish to buy.
The D.C. government is a major holder of a considerable number of boarded up homes. The Department of Housing and Community Development has both a moral obligation but a financial obligation to the taxpaying residents that the monies our treasury is not receiving from this housing is the result of foot dragging incompetence and ineffective management.
It would seem to me that there must be some communication in seeing that these properties are made available to purchase by residents our community. But more importantly is that both HUD monies and banks and mortgage agencies in the city see that low interest rate loans are made available; with a D.C. government underwriters' guarantee on each investment effort in order; that we see additional revenues come into the treasury, but further stabilize our neighborhoods and the growing D.C. community for all people. In Ward 5, I would push for such joint cooperation with the lending institutions and make the D.C. government (Department of Housing and Community Development) deliver such a program in order that people who want to stay, own and work in the city will be able to do just that.
2. The Department of Environmental Service is one of the major areas that needs strong revitalization to all city people. This department has internally endured all kinds of cuts in manpower, monies and service to the areas that need it most. While citizens have seen the present council make drastic cuts in this department's budget, we have also seen that they have agreed to increase the water taxes, twice to the tune of the some 20 percent in the owner cost we had been paying for the same services. The lack of sensitivity and awareness to the importance of this area is due to gross neglect and more political than the citizens are aware. My solution or recommendation would be to carefully review and assess the given budget and restructure the priorities to the people and areas that need these kind of day-to-day services for health, growth and for other encouraged good living in the nation's capitol.
3. Today, the major problem confronting our city is unemployment and the lack of available jobs and programs and people to create jobs. There has got to be a better and more effective way to see that some of the large numbers of both young males (black) and females are given the opportunity to work, in some capacity.
Our Congress has now got to realize the importance of work programs and incentives for these people is important for all our survival.
The council and executive branch of our government has got to lobby harder for greater support in behalf of federal social programs that will relieve this problem, which in turn creates crimes, burden, low spiritual attitudes and an overall lack of respect for one-self and his surroundings. Our Congress, who are being the victims now of some of these same crimes that have been perpetrated on us the citizens, must react to the new federal state of the District of Columbia's needs and the people with increased federal payment and broader working relations with our government and its elected leadership. Bernice Just, 57, of 1514 Girard St. NE, is a pretrial justice program director. She has worked 12 years with the Housing and Home Finance Agency (now HUD).
1. I would sponsor an ongoing public information program to assure that residents are aware of existing programs to assist them to obtain affordable housing and to get property tax relief such as homesteading, Section 312 rehabilitation loans, circuit breaker tax, etc. I would support legislative proposals to implement and increase housing subsidy programs such as Section 8 homeownership. In addition I would support measures to provide incentives for owners to rehabilitate and put vacant houses on the market for low-and moderate-income persons. For property tax relief measures, in addition to the circuit breaker tax I would propose legislation for a more equitable property tax assessment system. The present method of assessment between residential, commercial, and industrial properties is not equitable.Residential properties bear the burden of revenues for the city. I would support increased federal payments since over 60 percent of D.C. land is federal property and therefore exempt from local tax.
2. Ward 5 has a large elderly population. I would strive to increase services for the elderly residents, such as transportation to medical facilities, shopping markets, and social service centers. I would assess closely current public transportation facilities: routes, times, covenience, and major areas serviced. From that assessment would come recommendations (legislative and administrative) for improvement to accommodate the needs of Ward 5 residents. I believe that community involvement is very important. Therefore, I would solicit the active participation of Ward 5 residents in efforts to improve transportation for our elderly. A second area of major concern to Ward 5 residents is trash collection. With the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions I would take leadership in engaging the city environmental services in a joint clean-up campaign with residents of Ward 5. As a follow-up I would assure that Ward 5 received a regularly scheduled pick-up service with suggestions on how cooperative efforts by the residents would make trash collection more efficient. I would call for a comparative assessment of trash collection scheduled in Ward 5 with other wards perhousehold. This would serve to assure that Ward 5 residents receive their fair share of trash collection services.
3. The major problem in the city is unemployment of youths and underemployment of many adults in the work force. This problem has serious manifestations. Among the consequences are alienation and loss of motivation and self-esteem for the affected youths, increased need (therefore increased costs) for city services, and a more difficult task of promotion community interest and pride. To address this problem I would offer a tax incentive to employers in Ward 5 and the city, appealing to them to make special efforts to create jobs for young people as interns and apprentices in capacities that would provide valuable learning experiences and pride in accomplishment. The endorsement and help of labor unions would be sought in this effort. I would also promote development of special provisions for youth in the CETA program, utilizing a combination of local and federal efforts. A major problem for the future of this city is the lack of a comprehensive plan for the District of Columbia as called for in the Home Rule Charter. Neighborhoods and wards need to be guided by a plan and sense of where we are going (and want to go) in terms of city planning. For reasons not clear, progress has been stalled in developing a comperhensive physical, social, and environmental direction for Washington. I call for the city to carry out its mandate to enact a comprehensive plan for sound growth. Robert L. King, 38, of 3102 Apple Rd. NE, is director of social planning for the 14th Street Project Area Committee.
1. Although there are many aspects to the housing problem, I believe we should develop and pass a stronger Anti-Speculation Tax Bill geared not only to render the practice of "flipping" houses unprofitable, but to return houses to the concept of a place for people to live instead of a commodity to get a "fast buck." The houses owned and boarded up by the Department of Housing and Community Development should be rehabilitated and resold to families who demonstrate the most need. This effort should be coupled with the necessary financial programs and home and are able to maintain the house in the coming years. We should support legislation to devise a Housing Finance Agency that would sell bonds in order to construct new housing and renovate older homes for low-and moderate-income people. We should institute a set-aside clause for developers of new construction that stipulates for every "X" number of new housing units built for the upper income, "X" number of units will be built for low-and moderate-income persons. We should create and support programs that would make available grants or low-interest loans to individuals in order for them to have down payments on homes, which many people simply can't raise. We should investigate the concept of "sweat equity" which could allow a portion of the money one needs in construction loans or mortagage loans to be considered against the improvements the individual could contribute to the home. We should also make accessible to everyone all the various programs, funds and assistance already available in the area of housing to our residents. Property taxes are a burden to practically all home owners in the District of Columbia. I believe we can find some relief from ever increasing property taxes by:
(a) Lowering the current rate of property tax from $1.54 per $100 of assessed value, to $1.34 per $100 of assessed value.
(b) We should individually assess each home and not arbitrarily base assessments on the markets value of a few homes on the block.
(c) We should set ceilings on the maximum level of rates per year.
(d) We should also closely investigate the concepts of "deferred tax payments" and a"tax rebate program" for low-income and senior citizens on fixed incomes.
(e) We should demand that Congress raise the federal payment to 40 percent.
(f) We should institute a commuter tax on persons working in the District of Columbia who take their buying power to other jurisdictions.
(g) We should seriously and objectively investigate the possibility of attracting compatible industry to D.C., which would not only provide jobs but more funds to our local treasury.
2. As a result of my talking to the residents of Ward 5, I've been told the major areas of improvement needed in city services are:
(a) Trash removal
(b) Tree trimming and maintenance
(c) Additional traffic lights
(d) Pavement of sidewalks
(e) Inability to contact responsible governmental agencies
The first four concerns entail a process of making city officials and employees accountable. In order to allow our residents to call the local agencies and request services, we should develop a one-call central service phone number, in addition to multi-year short-and long-term goals to strengthen city services.
3. I feel our major problem in this city is the responsiveness and accountability of our elected and public officials. If elected, I would develop a ward council comprised of ANCs, ministers, businessmen and other groups to advise me and their respective groups on common concerns. I would also establish a ward office where I would maintain a schedule to talk to the residents of Ward 5. Juanita Kennedy Morgan, of 2705 30th St. NE, is a teacher and a real estate broker. She helped develop Federal City College and Washington Technical Institute.
1. Ordinance of Creations - Under the city's eminent domain power, would create an ordinance providing the restoration of all boarded up houses and apartments - District, federal government and private (with the cooperation of the federal government, seize said properties.) Create a special agency in cooperation with the schools, train and utilize the unemployed, the underemployed especially our young people. The government would hold said properties until the monies spent for restoration was paid back, then turn them back to the owners. Use CETA money - take a look at some reallocation of revenue sharing and ask HUD for 3 percent money. Subsidies and grants to those in need. One-half of all contracted jobs in D.C. must go to people in D.C. Ask cooperation of all merchants and business to cooperate, to take at least two people who are unemployed and train them.(Government subsidy).
2. To make a telephone call and get through to city agencies without having to make 10 telephone calls. Train and streamline each agency: do away with duplication, pubicize proper telephone numbers, and person. See to it that the proper person isn't always out to lunch.
Trash collectors who are not too professional to pick-up trash. Let the environmental services know and understand their duties in certain terms or else.
Create a consumer protection agency that has the strength and courage to speak for and protect the citizen (such as Action Line - Ralph Nader).
Either create an agency or give the Commission on the Aging the proper money and help to protect the elderly. The elderly suffer. Their checks are cut off at any given moment with the excuse that they have been overpaid. The elderly are continually ripped off by insurances they do not need. They struggle to pay it. When something happens they are then told that the insurance does not pay or the Medicare or Medicaid pays for that. Elderly abuse is much more rampant than child abuse.
3. Utility rake offs. Equip the present Public Service Commission with experts who can protect the citizens or make it an elected office. Produce own utilities: with approximately $8 to $13 per month from 700,000 people, with expert help we can produce our own. Thus in time dividends can be paid to the citizens.
Unconscionable taxing: high rents and condominiumitis (sic), "redlining." Moratorium on condominiums are the answer: poor people and in-between people have to have housing built to accommodate needs or be subsidized. The high rents the landlords raise at will are atrocious. The taxes, reevaluations of properties at the drop of a hat are ridiculous. Some of the laws now on the books, the quickie lame duck laws should be recalled. Some actions are tying the new City Council's hands. Redlining is an old discrimatory practice. Redlining should have been outlawed at the time black people fought to eat in the restaurants of their choice, to go to the toilets available in the movie houses. The District should build up a lending system of its own: based on the same principle as affirmative action, that is allowing those who have been poor to somehow make accumulations that will clear their records.
Ervin E. Phelps did not respond. Roland Rier, 31, of 4207 6th St. NE, is a teacher and consultant. He received a Presidential citation for his work on improving the utilities rate structures in the city.
1. It is clear, to me, that the availability of affordable housing and rising property taxes are serious problems facing the residents of Ward 5. I have talked to more than 15,000 residents of Ward 5 in the past five months. They have consistently identified these areas as their major concerns. Rising property taxes affects everyone: those on fixed income, the upper income group, the middle income group, and the lower income residents. It hurts the poor and the elderly more severely since often they have limited fixed dollars to live on. It also hurts other residents in that such taxes reduce the amount of disposable dollars left to spend and severely cripple their savings. Clearly, housing is a major problem. Apartment dwellers see a steady increase in the rental cost of their units. Homeowners see a steady increase in the cost of services and utilities. When elected, I will support strong measures to reduce utility cost and rent control. Further, I favor a reduction in property taxes for homeowners. It is clear to me that our local government has failed to protect the poor and the aged. The people have a right to expect more from government, and government has a duty to provide more.
2. As I have walked from door-to-door in this ward, it is clear that the residents have gotten fed up with poor services and in many cases no services. It seems that the present situation is one wherein many residents have discovered that it is not beneficial to seek services since such services will not be granted. Among serious breaches in the rendering of services are (1) trash collection, (2) alley cleaning, (3) public transportation after certain hours, (4) potholes and street repairs, (5) stop lights at certain streets, (6) police protection, (7) immediate health care, (8) fire protection, and (9) community parking. All of the above-listed items need immediate remedy. That is why, when elected, I will have two ward offices strategically located in Ward 5 to address these areas. I will organize a precinct-by-precinct group to identify and deal with specific problems. I believe in an open door policy. With such a policy I will be able to serve the people. Further, I will periodically go back to each precinct as I have during this campaign and meet with residents. I will be an active representative of the people. Further, I will stay in close contact with citizens' organizations in the ward.
3.There are many major problems in our city. Among the more pressing problems are: (1) utility cost, (2) property taxes, (3) rental cost, (4) speculation and its impact upon the cost of property, (5) the cost of automobile tags, (6) a lack of respect for and belief in our religious leaders, (7) racial discrimination, (8) dishonesty by public officials, and, in general, (9) alienation of the people from their government. Most of these problems can be traced back to the fact that local public officials have failed to safeguard the interest and protect the citizens. Though we have "limited" home rule, elected officials in our city do have the power to impart upon our lives. The problem is that too often they have sold themselves to the men and women who are speculators and have money interest. Frankly, the people in this town have received so little for giving so much. They have given elected officials the opportunity to run our government only to discover now that such officials apparently are more interested in themselves than in representing the best interest of the people. William R. Spaulding, 52, of 1905 Randolph St. NE, is currently a councilman. He has been a training officer, a contract representative and a math teacher.
1. In order to alleviate the problems of housing and rising property taxes in Ward 5, I am proposing the following:
(a) I will support legislation to establish a housing finance corporation which will provide low-interest loans to citizens of Ward 5 who desire to purchase or renovate their homes.
(b) I will also push for legislation to establish an information center whereby citizens will be made aware of new and ongoing programs that are especially designed to assist them in purchasing and rehabilitating private dwellings.
(c) I will also support legislation to curb speculation.
(d) I will continue to support legislation to lower the property tax rate.
(e) I will support legislation that will bring economic development into the District in order to broaden the taxbase.This means offering tax breaks to companies wishing to establish businesses in Ward 5 along such areas as the Bladensburg Road corridor or the New York Avenue corridor.
2. Two city services that need improvement are in the areas of environmental service and transportation. Many of our neighborhood streets and alleys are still in deplorable conditions. I will resolve this problem by establishing a citizens monitoring committee to work along with the ANC's, the civic associations and other groups. They would make regular reports on these services to the mayor and to my office. The inconvenience in transportation service is due to the changes brought about by Metro where bus services have been altered to meet the needs of the rail system rather than the convenience of the neighborhood citizens. I will resolve this problem by seeking to establish a mini-bus feeder system in order to serve residents in Ward 5 who need better transportation to local shopping areas and other places in this community.
3. I feel that the major problem in our city is the absence of an effective working relationship between the City Council, the mayor and Congress. The recent $56 million cut from the D.C. budget by the Senate District Committee and GSA audit seem to illustrate the need to improve that relationship.Since Congress does control the purse strings to the District of Columbia, we must learn to plan and to work together in order to develop budget priorities and programs that are agreeable to all three groups alike and at the same time meet the fundamental needs of our citizens. Virgil Thompson, 32, of 3502 16th St. NE, served on the Board of Higher Education and the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia during the transition.
1. As city councilman to Ward 5, Virgil Thompson will work with the community and the full City Council to develop employment. He will introduce legislation and research data to the full City Council and Congress to allow development of nearly 12 percent of the land under the Anacostia and Potomac rivers. This space which is nearly 12 percent of the 64 square miles of the District could be utilized for land development, later resulting in training, job placement and housing. He will work with a team of economists to review the overall community with citizen input for a comprehensive economical program. He will recommend to the University of the District of Columbia a proposal to allow the extension center students to rehabilitate District properties on 10th Street NE, N Street NW, Rhode Island Avenue NE, First Street NW and throughout Ward 5, utilizing the extention services of the University of the District of Columbia. This will allow the availability of more affordable housing. To alleviate any increase in taxes, he will review the present tax structure and recommend that the president and Congress give immediate priority to restructuring the D.C. Administration and to establish a more visibly effective government, ordering the District government to use CETA funds and others subsidies solely for the hard core unemployment.
2. Overall environmental services such as trash collection, tree triming, street cleaning, spot development, no parking signs, sidewalk repairs, re-routing of commercial trucks in precincts 66, 67, 68, a review of the District of Columbia building and fire code to determine if the outdated regulation is a cause and effect of speculation and the community. These are the issues in my community. First, I will recommend to the full City Council anc Congress and will support legislation to impose a curfew on all minors to be off the city streets by 9 p.m. and in their homes. I will recommend to the D.C. school board to establish a parental-teacher program for early effective intervention and will endorse and support rigid disciplinary action on students and teachers. I will endorse and support a commercial road in Precinct 66 off Puerto Rico Avenue as a bypass for commercial traffic.
3. In my opinion, the major issue in the city is a combination of problems. Our city lacks foresight and common sense in leadership. The city lacks discipline, standards and it wastes too much damn money on high administrative salary and overall government spending. The city government is spending too many tax dollars on welfare for people who don't work, who can work. The city government is making people nonproductive. The city government is using too many tax dollars for its own personal gains and the gains of special interest groups. The city government has forgotten the District of Columbia. The city government has caused the citizens not to trust leadership or vote. I cannot address the problems alone. I need nearly 650,000 citizens-plus. However, I will endeavor to do my best to deliver the services that are paramount in my community. I will ask the clergy to create a citywide task force to demand the President and Congress to reinstitute prayers back into the schools. I believe that if we cannot find a way of improvement we must make a way. It is in this spirit of cooperation that Virgil Thompson asks you for your vote on Tuesday, Sept. 12. John M. (Jack) Thornton, 64, of 1736 Allison St. NE, is retired from the public relations department of the United Steelworkers of America. He has been a member of civil rights and civic organizations.
1. I would sponsor a resolution requesting HUD for sufficient funds to make a complete investigation of the housing problems in the District, and follow up by requesting builders to fill the gap, as it now exists. The tax structure in D.C. has been out of line for several years. I would seek a realignment of the tax laws passed by the City Council with an objective of placing the burden of taxes where they belong, partly on the downtown business enterprises, thus leaving the homeowners, who have been bearing the burden of the taxes in D.C., relatively free of the tax burden.
2. All city services are under the direction of the mayor. I would support a resolution in City Council to create an advisory committee on the city services to the mayor.
3. The major problem in this city, as I view it, is the high cost of living. Upon election, I would immediately introduce a bill seeking funds to advertise to invite additional chain stores into the District. Competition among chain stores would drive food costs down. Statehood Steven D. Abel, 31, of 20 Adams St. NW, is a pastoral evangalist and social worker.
1. If I am elected, I would support measures that would create more housing for low and moderate income residents. Such measures would include making more money available to persons who have heretofore not been able to find the financing for a home in D.C. I would support measures that would start up building of new homes and re*novation of old ones now boarded up and would favor awarding a substantial percentage of the building contracts to local small business and minority firms. If elected, I will introduce legislation that would bring in light industry to D.C. to create more jobs and broaden the tax base. I would also introduce legislation that would give greater tax relief to our retired and elderly citizens who are being taxed out of all they have worked for. I feel that the downtown convention center will create and generate enough new revenue to offset property taxes especially for the elderly. I also favor the commuter tax and residency for employment in the District's jobs - both of these measures will create more revenue and ease the burden of property taxes for Ward 5 and D.C. residents in general.
2. I feel that there is a gross lack of services to the elderly residents of Ward 5 and the city. It is true that the youth need jobs, but this city almost turns a deaf ear to its senior citizens. If elected, I will introduce legislation that would give a greater percentage of the District's budget to programs to aid the elderly. I believe we need more recreational facilities in Ward 5 and I will work to create them. There is a serious shortage of local food stores in the area and I favor measures which would bring more stores into the area. I also think a minibus service is needed in the ward (perhaps all of the wards) to especially help the elderly and housewives get around in their local areas. I favor closer scrutiny of the utility commission's handling of rates and the companies' billing practices. I will also wage a personal crusade to get the trash picked up on time for everyone in the ward and I will personally fight to keep our streets and alleys clean and clear of trash.
3. I feel the major problem in the city is corruption in government and gross mismanagement of the city units. If I am elected, I intend to bring all unit heads into greater contact with the public and require greater accountability. I want to sweep out city hall and get rid of the self-interested personalities who have stifled the progress and efficiency of the city government's operations. I intend to work toward the development of greater unity amongst the various segments of the community and city government. We need jobs for everybody and I intend to cooperatively work with my colleagues to find creative solutions to this pressing problem.
Finally, I intend to support the voting rights amendment and to push for statehood for the District of Columbia. We need control of the budget of D.C. as well as the courts and laws of the District of Columbia. Statehood is the key and, if elected, I will work to bring these things about.