Candidates for at-large member of the D.C. Council were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Problem: What is the most pressing problem facing the city today and what would you do as a member of the D.C. Council to solve it?
Qualifications: What is the most important reason you should be elected instead of one of your opponents?
Johnny Barnes (D), 34, of 3014 V Place SE, an attorney, is staff counsel to the House District Committee. A former deputy director of D.C. Community Legal Assistance and Street Law program and adjunct professor at UDC, he has served on commissions for human rights and residential mortgage investment.
Problem: The financial condition of the city. We face a $300 million deficit and billions in unfunded, accrued pension liability. These debts must be eliminated or the city faces bankruptcy. New taxes are unacceptable. We are already taxed more than all others, except Alaskans. I would use the funds from the D.C. lottery as well as the new bonding authority to help eliminate these debts. Once the debts are eliminated we can more easily meet the real concerns of this community -- jobs, safety, housing, education and health. The council has the authority to act on these matters and therefore the responsibility. It is not enough for the council to complain about the executive branch when it has the power to act positively. You as voters expect that of the council, and you will get that if you elect Johnny Barnes.
Qualifications: My seven years of experience with the Congress is unmatched by any of my opponents. Whether we like it or not, the reality is that any day, any member of Congress, for any reason or no reason, can decide to interfere with our government. This year, Congress, through legislation, has tried to tell us how to live and tell us how to die. As we press for expanded self-government, through statehood or through full voting rights, we need council members who know and understand the Congress. I have labored in behalf of the District for most of the efforts for greater self-determination. I have written or played a vital role in most of the legislation of benefit to the District. I know the Congress. This experience is especially meaningful as we seek to eliminate our debts. Congress of necessity must participate in liquidating the deficit and especially the billions of dollars in unfunded, accrued pension liability.
Betty Ann Kane (D) (Incumbent), 41, of 118 5th St. NE, an at-large member of the City Council since 1978, serves on finance, government operations, housing and education committees. She has been an at-large member of the school board, vice president of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and is active in community programs.
Problem: As a citywide elected official for the past eight years, my experience has been that the most pressing problem facing our city is making government work -- restoring confidence in the city's finances, channeling economic development toward keeping small businesses and creating jobs for D.C. residents, providing basic services fairly to all neighborhoods and adequately funding our schools -- the key to a good city. When reelected, I will continue as a strong voice for responsible fiscal management that provides taxpayers with their money's worth out of tax dollars and ensures wise cash investments; and I will continue to develop legislation that provides a tax system that meets social needs without driving business and the middle-class out of the city.
Qualifications: In the eight years I have served as an at-large elected official, I have been a responsive and responsible representative of the interest of my citywide constituency. I work hard and do my homework thoroughly. I know a good legislator needs to listen as well as lead, I go into the community to meet with people in their homes and civic associations to find out what they think. I know the community needs to be informed, so I send out regular newsletters and keep in touch when issues of special concern are coming up. I know that good government needs elected officials who are experienced in working cooperatively. I have worked responsibly with my colleagues to move our city government forward, and when I am reelected I will continue to be a strong voice for responsible government that will make our city work. You can depend on me.
Barbara Lett Simmons (D), 54, of 7244 15th Place NW, has been an at-large member of the D.C. Board of Education since 1973. A teacher and administrator, she has served on the boards of a number of D.C. organizations and is active in women's professional groups. She was a delegate to the D.C. constitutional convention.
Problem: The most pressing problem is employment. When a city's trained and willing work force can find no work, the pathologies of hopelessness and helplessness are reflected in increased crime and a diminution of safety and security, especially for property and the elderly. Notwithstanding the national scope and nature of unemployment that exists today, there is much that still can be done to attack this problem. I will explore initiatives and incentives for new business, and expansion and growth for existing businesses, large and small. Government must be a partner to progress and not an obstruction. As jobs are generated, the positive upward cycle can begin.
Qualifications: What I have to recommend me is my consistent endeavor and participation, past and present, to the ever-improving quality of life in our city, through vigilance, advocacy and gate-keeping; my initial service in live, participatory democracy concept implementation was through such vehicles as Neighborhood Planning Councils and Neighbors Inc. I generated support in the creation of legislation to provide for: 1) an elected school board; and 2) a land-grant college, Washington Technical Institute, Federal City College. I served on the Passow Study Report committee to analyze the public schools for planned improvement, and I participated in drafting the statehood constitution. My status in several national bodies provides a network for support of crucial issues to D.C. requiring congressional action due to our colonial status. Demonstrated evidence of maturity, stability, belief in our city and our people and that government can serve people is my claim. My record of service to this city speaks for itself. Courage and integrity are still worthy attributes.
Hilda Mason (Statehood), (Incumbent), 66, of 1459 Roxanna Rd. NW, has been a member of the City Council since April 1977. A former member of the D.C. Board of Education, she is active in organizations in support of education, women's issues, the arts, the environment, the peace movement and civil liberties.
Problem: The District of Columbia has many pressing problems: crime, unemployment, mass transportation, housing, health care and lack of final authority to enacting legislation, particularly the budget. As a member of the District of Columbia Statehood Party and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, which recently ended its session, I am drawn toward naming the fact that we are not a state as our most pressing problem. However, I deeply believe that education for all segments of our population, including the very young, unemployed workers, the incarcerated, displaced homemakers and the elderly is our most "pressing" problem. Education is the foundation for community development. Public education consistently commands a lesser portion of our tax dollar than it does in any other state. My efforts on the council have been, and will continue to be, to push for full funding for the public educational system and to promote full educational services for all parts of the District population.
Qualifications: I am running for reelection on my record of support for education, for statehood, for the preservation of civil liberties, for improved mass transit, for tenant-oriented housing laws and for full citizen participation in the processes of government. The people of the District know my record and have shown consistently that they believe that I represent their interests well and that I work very hard on their behalf. I shall continue to work to earn the trust and support of the District residents through my actions as a councilmember by giving the best of my ability, my experience and my full time to the needs of the people.