Candidates for the D.C. Council were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Problem: What is the most pressing problem facing residents of your ward, 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?
Ruth Dixon (D), 60, of 3715 Upton St. NW, is past president of the D.C. League of Women Voters and set up the League's corps to monitor and lobby D.C. government. A political scientist, she has taught in the public schools, chaired her area's advisory neighborhood commission and organized Meals on Wheels in the Georgetown-Ward Circle area.
Problem: Government efficiency is the single overriding concern of Ward 3 residents. We want a government we can be proud of, that spends tax dollars prudently, that passes wise laws and administers them well. As a member of the council, I will do my homework before voting on bills and will reject those like the estate tax bill, the candy and gasoline tax bills and election laws which overburden the elections board without improving the process. I will insist on effective oversight of government agencies, such as the Department of Human Services, so that something like the St. Elizabeth's billing fiasco will not go undetected for a year or longer.
Qualifications: I believe I have the experience and energy to provide effective leadership in a demanding legislative job. One of my opponents has experience, the other has energy -- I have both. My professional background as a political scientist, my experience in working with the council as president of the D.C. League of Women Voters and my service on the national League's lobby corps will enable me to step right into the job.
Mark Plotkin (D), , 35, of 4124 Edmunds St. NW, serves on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission for Western Glover Park and is an elected member of Ward 3's Democratic Committee. A graduate of George Washington University and a former teacher in D.C. public schools, he is now a political consultant and fundraiser.
Problem: Ward 3's most pressing problem is retention of the integrity and vitality of its neighborhoods. Neighborhoods reflect the environment around them. People in Ward 3 chose to live there because they were attracted by its promise as a good place to live. But increasingly burdensome tax assessments, higher crime rates and bad zoning decisions causing some overdevelopment and traffic congestion have eroded some of the integrity of the ward's neighborhoods. Ward 3 has a wonderful blend of people. It has a large mixture of senior citizens who ought to be able to walk the streets again, to mingle with the children in the neighborhood, and the younger couples who own many of the homes in the area. The ward should not be threatened by economic or developmental conditions that could force out many of its older residents. The ward's representative should be vigilant and rather than reacting to periodic crises, the councilmember should be planning for the future, influencing the factors that impact on a neighborhood's livability. For instance, innovative suggestions to crime problems would be a priority. I would lead our community in putting pressure on the parole board to discourage the release of repeat offenders who have served miminum sentences. These are many of the people who now prey on neighborhoods. I would seek creation of a secial unit to track down violent criminals who have jumped bail. And I would demand adequate funding for police protection, enabling us to have more officers out of their squad cars and on the streets of Ward 3. As representative of Ward 3, I would exercise a level of power and leadership commensurate with the enormous level of taxes the ward pays to the city.
Qualifications: Being a leader means being accessible and sensitive to the needs of people you represent. I am more in tune to the needs of the citizens of Ward 3 as we face the challenges of the '80s. I will listen; I will be available; I will be accessible; and I will be well-informed about what is happening in Ward 3 and in my city. I will speak out and I will act. I will be a constant and vocal ombudsman for the citizens of Ward 3. Too often the phone bill we want to complain about, or the electric or gas bill we can't understand is thrown aside in frustration with the rationale that that's the system -- no one cares. I want to change that attitude. When things go wrong in city government, Ward 3's voice will be heard. For example, we have a Tax Assessment Office that is a mass of confusion, often issuing inaccurate and inequitable assessments. It has a staggering backlog and no reasonable rules to guide the decisions its assessors are called on to make. It will soon face a lawsuit from the Citizens for Fair Assessment. But in the past not a peep has been heard from Ward 3's councilmember. That will change if I am elected. I got involved in politics because I wanted to have some impact on my city and my country. I grew up with an old-fashioned idea that elected office is an admirable occupation, but that that admiration must be continually earned by the holder of the office. Citizens have the right to expect, and in fact should demand, accountability from the people they elect and whose salaries they pay.
Polly Shackleton (D), (Incumbent), 72, of 3232 Reservoir Rd. NW, has served two elected terms on the City Council. She has been a member of many advisory commissions and is active in local and national Democratic politics. She has worked for the American Institute of Architects and as a writer, editor and researcher.
Problem: Ward 3 faces the challenge of maintaining safe neighborhoods with good public schools and reliable public services. I will continue to set up neighborhood crime watch programs with the 2nd District police, support summer jobs for our youth and, as chair of the Committee on Human Services, support programs such as drug treatment, which address the causes of crime. Being chair also enables me to leverage services for elderly and disabled citizens for whom I am particularly concerned. I support the efforts of the new school board to seek necessary funding to maintain quality neighborhood schools. This year, I identified extra dollars for schools by encouraging the Department of Human Services to lease school space, and I supported legislation allowing leasing to compatible groups. Ward 3 residents count on receiving efficient services. When they are not forthcoming, a call to my ward or downtown office produces quick results for constituents.
Qualifications: My two terms on the council, with my record of more than 60 pieces of legislation actually in place, my proven ability to work with my colleagues, my knowledge of this city and my long experience in dealing with community problems are of special value. My credibility throughout the entire D.C. community as well as on Capitol Hill, my longtime association with business, labor, religous, health, social service and political leaders and the recognition I have received from countless community and professional organizations obviously give me a great advantage in representing the residents of Ward 3.